Dera chief sentenced to 20 years in jail for rapes

Chandigarh: A special CBI court on August 28 sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 20-years of rigorous imprisonment in separate cases of rape of his two disciples.
Amid unprecedented security in Punjab and Haryana, CBI judge Jagdeep Singh was flown in from Panchkula to the Rohtak jail this afternoon where a library was turned into a make-shift courtroom for the extraordinary hearing in the case.
No major incident of violence or arson was reported from Haryana after today’s pronouncement of sentence. Both states continue to be on high alert. The court ordered a fine of Rs 15 lakh in each of the two cases out of which Rs 14 lakh will be given to each of the victims.
The sect chief broke down as the quantum of sentence was read out to him by the Judge. He sought forgiveness with folded hands, said sources. The Dera head felt uneasy during the hearing after which doctors of the PGI Rohtak, who was on stand by, were asked to examine the convict, reports said.
There was a heavy deployment of Army and para military around the jail complex and only a few were permitted inside the courtroom.
The Judge ordered 10-year jail term in each of the two cases which meant that the sentence will run consecutively, not concurrently, over a span of 20-years. Both the defence and prosecution were allowed 10-minutes each by the CBI Judge for final comments. Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s lawyers sought leniency in punishment from the Judge on grounds that his client was sick and had done a lot of philanthropic work.
The CBI counsel on the other side sought maximum punishment. Earlier on Friday, the Judge had convicted the sect head for the rape of two women between 1999 and 2002. His conviction led to unprecedented violence in Panchkula and Sirsa after hoodlums of the Dera went berserk resorting to large scale violence and arson which consumed 38 lives and injured 278 persons.
Haryana CM ML Khattar has appealed for peace. The Army is out in Sirsa and Rohtak to prevent a repeat of Friday’s violence. Authorities said they will not hesitate to fire gun shots at people who violate orders and disrupt law and order. In Punjab, curfew has been lifted in five out of 10 districts.
Night curfew continues for the time being in Mansa, Bathinda, Faridkot, Barnala and Samna, and some parts of Patiala.

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