Published: Wed, August 30, 2017
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Dera chief gets 20-year rigorous imprisonment

Dera chief gets 20-year rigorous imprisonment

50-year-old Gurmeet Ram Rahim faced a maximum sentence of 10 years for each of his crimes after being found guilty of raping two of his women followers and criminal intimidation.

Both the sentences will run consecutively for a total of 20 years, said Defence counsel SK Garg Narwana after the special CBI judge pronounced the sentence in the district jail.

Ram Rahim Singh's followers turned violent and 38 people were killed after his conviction on Friday.

The decision was taken after no violence was reported in the area, officials said.

So concerned were authorities over a repeat of the violence unleashed after his conviction that Judge Jagdeep Singh was helicoptered in to read out his judgment. Security forces were deployed to contain the situation, with the high court asking the government to use force if necessary.

The rape victims, despite threats and pressures all along, stood their ground on rape and sexual harassment allegations during almost 15-year-long hearing of the matter in court.

The minimum punishment for rape is seven years which may extend till life (term). Many strong followers refused to leave the congregation centres of the sect spread across the country. In his most recent film, he plays a secret agent armed with a twirled moustache and an assortment of swords to fight aliens and UFOs.

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In a landmark judgment a self-styled godman, who has a tremendous following in India's northern states of Punjab and Haryana, was brought to book on rape charges, on Monday.

A curfew was also in place in Sirsa town, where the sprawling main headquarters of the guru's Dera Sacha Sauda sect are located.

Local police spokesman Surjeet Singh said some people were still inside the compound, but that it was impossible to know how many.

There was a heavy deployment of the army and paramilitary forces around the jail complex and entry to the courtroom was restricted.

His followers went on the rampage when he was convicted, attacking rail stations, buses and vans used by TV broadcasters. It also organizes blood-donation and tree-planting drives.

On the issue of attachment of properties of the Dera, it was asked whether the Dera Sacha Sauda can be asked to give security and surety for payment of compensation during the pendency of these proceedings, Gupta told reporters later outside the court. These sects and their leaders inspire intense devotion among their believers and also wield considerable political clout. This law was enacted after the infamous Delhi gangrape and murder case of a medical student in 2012 in which five men raped the victim and badly mutilated her body.

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