Dera Sacha Sauda’s chief and self-proclaimed godman, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is sentenced to 20 years imprisonment by the Special CBI Court setup in Sunaria Jail at Rohtak today. Reportedly, Gurmeet Singh was in tears while the judgment was being read out. Punjab CM Amrinder Singh held an emergency meeting to review security checks ahead of delivering the verdict.
Protestors have reportedly begun rioting in parts of Punjab and Haryana. Police has imposed curfew in Moga district of Punjab.
The arguments began at Rohtak's Sonaria Jail to decide the quantum of sentence in the highly anticipated Ram Rahim’s rape case. The prosecution demanded a maximum sentence for the rape convict, seeking a 20-year imprisonment.
Special CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh decided the matter after hearing both the parties. Citing security reasons, the Judge was flown from Panchkula to Sunaria Jail. Security forces had been deployed to guard the premises of Sunaria Jail in Rohtak in a bid to prevent any communal clashes and rioting.
Gurmeet Singh’s counsel consisting of six lawyers headed by SK Narwana contended that the convict is a social worker and prayed to the court to award a lenient punishment.
Gurmeet Singh, who goes by the alias Ram Rahim Insaan, has been serving as the head of spiritual group Dera Sacha Sauda since 1990. The spiritual Baba has been embroiled in controversy since 1992 when an anonymous letter reached the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in connection with the rape case. The letter recounted the inhumane and brutal experiences of hundreds of women who were kept in Gurmeet Singh’s “gufa” as “sadhvis”. The letter alleged that the women were regularly raped by the self-proclaimed godman.
In a latest development, Haryana Police has launched a crack-down on the Dera’s congregation centres on suspicion that the followers of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh could be storing petrol, diesel and weapons there. Sonipat’s Additional SP D K Bhardwaj said the police seized lathis and other “items” from the Dera’s congregation centre at Bahalgarh buried 2.5 feet inside the ground.
Meanwhile, major parts of North India remain at high alert due to the violence that took place on Saturday when the rape accused was convicted by the CBI Court in Panchkula. Delhi Police conducted flag marches in various parts of the city on Monday to thwart any unwanted incident ahead of the announcement of quantum of punishment to Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in Rajkot. Security forces are maintaining extreme vigil in districts with sizeable Dera followers including in Bathinda, Sangrur and Moga in Punjab.
The High Court of Punjab & Haryana criticised inaction of the Haryana Police and State Government for letting Panchkula burn at the hands of aggressive protestors on Saturday. So far, Haryana Police have registered 52 cases in connection with the violence which left a trail of destruction, particularly in Panchkula and Sirsa in Haryana, and arrested 926 people.
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