Ram Rahim gets 20 yrs in jail, sobs in court
NEW DELHI: A special 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.
CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh pronounced two sentences of 10 years 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 will appeal against the orders in a high court.
Media reports said he broke down and begged for forgiveness with folded hands when the first sentence was passed.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim was on Friday ruled guilty of rape by the special CBI court in Panchkula, Haryana. He was immediately taken into judicial custody but his followers in Haryana and Punjab went on the rampage resulting in the death of 38 people and crores of damage to public property.
To avoid a repeat of Friday's violence, sentencing was held in a court specially set up inside the district jail premises in Sunaria near Rohtak, where Ram Rahim was brought and lodged after his conviction.
CBI special court judge Jagdeep Singh was flown to Rohtak on Monday to pronounce the sentence.
A multilayer security cordon manned by police and 23 companies of paramilitary forces was 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.
Haryana 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 High Court.
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 Court.
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 (CrPC), prohibiting assembly of five or more persons, and carrying of firearms and other weapons, are already in place in Rohtak district.
Rohtak's residents were warned on Monday to stay indoors. Large gatherings are banned in the city. Mobile internet services remain suspended. All schools and colleges in Haryana were closed on Monday.