Indian court sentences self-styled "godman" to 20 years in prison

After one of the two rape victims told the Dera chief that she would disclose his wrongdoings to her brother, she was told "he (Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh) will get him (the brother) shot and buried".

Prohibitory orders barring the assembly of five or more people had been imposed in Rohtak; the area within a 10-kilometre radius of the jail premises had been cordoned off. The court also had announced that the loss and damage of public property by the followers of Dera chief from the Dera Saccha Sauda only will be recovered from Ram Rahim's property. The defence sought leniency on the ground that Ram Rahim had done a lot of social work.

Defense lawyer S.K. Garg Narwana said the guru was sentenced to 10 years in each case and fined a total of 3 million rupees ($47,000 or 5 million yen).

The CBI judge, in the judgment, has said the murder is a matter of separate trial and no comment is desirable at this stage. A judge was flown to the jail by helicopter.

There were no immediate reports of similar violence after Mr. Singh's sentencing on Monday, which was reported by the Press Trust of India and other news organizations. Presently, he is in a special cell in company of two other prisoners. If we had this confrontation before he was taken to court, then situation would have been even graver.

The Army, paramilitary forces and police continued to be deployed at various "nakas" in Sirsa city as a precautionary measure, Sirsa Deputy Commissioner, Prabhjot Singh said.

There is now a curfew in both Haryana and the neighboring Punjab province.

Shocked by Rahim's conviction, Dera Sacha Sauda followers remain on the streets, wondering who they can believe in now. The curfew will continue on Monday. He had played the role of kingmaker in the last Haryana assembly elections, and was courted by the Congress as well as the BJP-Akali Dal combine in Punjab assembly elections this year.

The bench comprising of Chief Justice SS Saron and Justice Surya Kant, Justice Avneesh Jhingan directed that no FIR registered by the two states during the Friday mayhem shall be cancelled without the permission of the High Court. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered a CBI probe after taking cognisance of the letter.

The rape charges were investigated by India's Central Bureau of Investigation, and a special CBI court convicted and sentenced Singh.

  • Leroy Wright