Rape convict Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was On Monday sentenced to 20 years imprisonment — 10 years for each rape conviction. The self-styled godman was convicted by a special CBI court on Friday, which led to large-scale violence by his followers in parts of Haryana, Punjab and Delhi, resulting in the deaths of 38 people. Ram Rahim is lodged in a Rohtak district jail. Here are the latest developments:
1. No mercy for rapist Gurmeet Ram Rahim: Prosecution had demanded the maximum punishment for Singh, convicted on August 25 by a CBI court in a rape case dating back to 2002. Just before the judge was about to announce the quantum of sentence, reports of violence trickled in. Two cars were reportedly torched by Dera Sacha Sauda supporters in the Phoolka area of Haryana's Sirsa.
2. Judge flew to Rohtak jail: Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court judge Jagdeep Singh, who had on Friday held the Dera chief guilty of rape and criminal intimidation of the two female disciples in 2002, reached Rohtak in chopper to announce the sentence.
3. Airfare soars to Rs 19,000:
Passengers are being charged high fares in the wake of some disruption in road and rail transport services in Haryana and Punjab. DGCA has asked airlines to keep ticket prices in "check" on flights to Chandigarh, Amritsar, and Jaipur.
4. Haryana and Punjab are on high alert with elaborate security arrangements in place:
A multi-layer security cordon manned by police and 23 companies of paramilitary forces have been thrown in and around Rohtak and also around the Sunaria Jail, which lies on the outskirts of the city limits. The Army has been kept on standby.
5. Mobile internet services remain suspended: The Haryana and Punjab governments on Sunday suspended mobile internet services till August 29 (Tuesday).
6. High-level meeting underway to discuss security situation:
Ahead of the court proceedings against rape convict Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim today, a high-level meeting is underway at North Block to discuss the security situation in Punjab and Haryana. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, National
Security Advisor Ajit Doval, the Home Secretary, the Director, Intelligence Bureau and other Home Ministry officials are present in the ongoing meeting.
7. 'Shoot at sight' in place: Rohtak District Collector (DC) Atul Kumar confirmed that shoot at sight will be imposed on any miscreants trying to harm innocent natives. "We have discussed our plan of action in a meeting today, and have clarity on what needs to be done. If any person is seen as a threat to the peace of the region or tries to harm anybody or himself, shoot at sight orders will be passed immediately. We are maintaining strict vigil and will not tolerate carelessness of any kind", he said.
8. All schools and colleges in Haryana are closed: In view of the prevailing tension, schools and colleges in Haryana and parts of Punjab will remain closed today. However, in Chandigarh, all schools, colleges and other educational institutions, which had remained shut for the past few days owing to the tense situation, will function normally from August 28.
9. Rohtak residents warned to stay indoors
Barbed-wire barriers have been erected and residents warned to stay indoors in Rohtak. Senior members of his sect were placed under detention as a precautionary measure. Banks have been asked to provide details of accounts of the Dera Sacha Sauda.
10. Followers show unity
Over 1,50,000 members of Ram Rahim's Dera Sacha Sauda had gathered in Panchkula in a show of support a day before the verdict. Violent protests followed across his power base in the Haryana, with police deploying tear gas and water cannons, with little impact. It was clear the authorities grossly underestimated the risk posed by the army of Ram Rahim's devotees.