Police and para-military forces are on stand-by to ensure there is no repeat of the violence that followed his conviction.

Rapist and cult leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim sentenced to 20 years by special CBI courtPTI/ file image
news Crime Monday, August 28, 2017 - 15:29

The Special CBI court judge Jagdeep Singh sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS) sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment - he was sentenced to 10 years each on two counts of rape, to be served consecutively.

He also has to pay a fine of Rs 30 lakh - 15 lakhs each in each case. 

News agency ANI reported that a medical examination was underway and a jail uniform was to be given to the convict shortly.

The sect chief has been convicted on two counts for rape (Section 376 IPC), criminal intimidation (Section 506 IPC) and Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman). Before the judge pronounced his verdict,  counsels from both sides made their respective arguments in the makeshift court inside Rohtak jail. 

The judge allotted 10 minutes to put forth their arguments, reported news agency ANI.

TV reports said that the defence lawyers pleaded for leniency on grounds of the sect leader's health. They also claimed that the convict was a social worker. Meanwhile, the CBI lawyers asked for 10-year sentence in each of the cases. 

A court was set up in the prison premises itself where the special CBI judge pronounced the verdict. The judge arrived at the jail premises in a chopper from Chandigarh.

The district jail premises, about 10 km from Rohtak town, has been completely cordoned off by security forces, including paramilitary forces and Haryana Police. The Army has been kept on stand-by.

There were no reports of violence except for two cars that were set on fire in Sirsa ahead of the sentencing.

No movement of people, other than those authorized, will be allowed within a distance of 10 km from the prison premises.

"We are fully prepared for any situation. The Army has been kept on stand-by," Haryana Director General of police (DGP) BS Sandhu said.

Rohtak range Inspector General (IG) Navdeep Singh Virk said that 28 companies of paramilitary forces, along with Haryana Police, have been deployed in Rohtak.

Security forces were on high alert again on Monday in Haryana and Punjab as both states braced for the announcement of quantum of punishment to the disgraced sect chief.

Curfew was reimposed in Haryana's Sirsa town, where the sect's headquarters are located, on Sunday. The curfew will continue on Monday.

The sect has lakhs of followers mainly in Punjab and Haryana.

Background

The rape and sexual exploitation of the female follower was first reported through an anonymous letter in 2002 to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The woman said that Singh had raped her in 1999. She also accused the sect leader of raping other female followers in the sect’s campus.

Soon after, a suo motu case was taken by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The High Court had ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the matter and the CBI registered a sexual exploitation case against Singh the same year.

One of the women said that Singh had justified the rape saying the act would “purify” her. One also said that the when she once entered Singh’s chamber – the doors of which automatically close – she found him watching a pornographic film.

Their statement was recorded and the CBI filed a chargesheet in 2007.

The case has taken nearly 15 years to reach the verdict stage.

A journalist, Ram Chander Chhatrapati, who had first reported the sexual exploitation at the sect campus, was shot dead in October 2002.

The murder conspiracy case against Dera officials and the sect chief is being heard by the court separately.

(with IANS inputs)

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