A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Monday sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 20 years in prison after his conviction in two rape cases.
Judge Jagdeep Singh pronounced two sentences of 10-year rigorous imprisonment in each of the two cases that date back to 2002, said defence lawyer S K Garg Narwana.
He said both sentences will run consecutively for a total of 20 years in jail for the flamboyant guru who has millions of followers and counts politicians as well as celebrities as his friends.
Singh also fined him Rs 15 lakh in each of the two cases, of which Rs 14 lakh each would go to the two victims who were part of his sect and were coerced into having sex with him.
The defence counsel sought leniency from the court, arguing that Ram Rahim was active in social work and had health issues. He said he would appeal against the orders in a high court. The sentence was passed in a special courtroom set up inside the Sunaria jail where Ram Rahim, the 50-year-old self-proclaimed godman, is lodged since last Friday after he was convicted.
Media reports said he broke down and begged for forgiveness with folded hands when the first sentence was passed.
The judge was brought to Rohtak by a helicopter from Chandigarh and landed at a helipad near the jail located on the outskirts of Rohtak.
A multi-layer security cordon manned by police, and 23 companies of paramilitary forces were thrown in and around Rohtak and also around the jail. The Army has been kept on standby while all routes to the jail were sealed.
and Punjab remained on high alert with officials warning that violent miscreants will be shot at sight, describing the security situation as “challenging”. Ram Rahim was found guilty of rape in a case that stemmed from an anonymous written complaint in April 2002 that he had sexually exploited two female followers. The case was registered by the CBI
in December 2002 on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana
filed the charge sheet against the Dera head in Ambala court in July 2007. The charge sheet mentions sexual exploitation of two ‘sadhvis
’ between 1999 and 2001. The special CBI
court framed charges against Ram Rahim under Sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC in September 2008.
Between 2009 and 2010, the two complainants recorded their statements before the court.
The special CBI
court shifted from Ambala to Panchkula and the case against Dera chief was also transferred to Panchkula CBI
In July 2017, the court ordered daily hearing and arguments of prosecution and defence were concluded on August 17, 2017.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, prohibiting assembly of five or more persons, and carrying of firearms and other weapons, are already in place in Rohtak district.
Rohtak Deputy Commissioner Atul Kumar said police would not hesitate to open fire again at those spreading violence. Haryana
B S Sandhu also said “maintaining law and order is the top priority for the Haryana
Police today (Monday)”. Rohtak Range Inspector General, Navdeep Singh Virk said no Dera follower will be allowed to enter Rohtak district or come near the jail.
“For that we have set up special barricades across the entire Rohtak district.”
As a precautionary measure, schools and other educational institutions remained shut in Haryana
while these will also remain closed in sensitive districts in Punjab.