Case against –Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
Self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was on Monday sentenced to 20 years in jail in a rape case.
Authorities are on high alert in Punjab and Haryana, as Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s followers went on the rampage that left 38 dead after his conviction of Friday. Ahead of Monday’s court proceedings, the two states ordered schools and colleges shut, suspended mobile services, stepped up security and threw a five-tier cordon around a Rohtak jail, where a judge handed out punishment to the Dera chief for raping two disciples 15 years ago.
. In 2002,(ie 15 yrs ago)
The rape case was brought against him after an anonymous letter was sent to then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002 accusing Singh of repeatedly raping the sender and several other women in Dera Sacha Sauda sect.
The court observed that the dera head behaved like a wild beast and thus deserves no mercy. “The court is of the considered view that when the convict did not even spare his own pious disciples and had acted like wild beast, he does not deserve any mercy,” the court said.
“In other words, a man who has no concern for humanity, nor has any mercy in his nature,
does not deserve leniency from the court,” the judgment states.
Self-styled ‘godman’ Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced on Monday to 10 years in jail and a fine of Rs 65,000 for raping two women 15 years ago as a CBI court ignored the Dera Sacha Sauda chief’s last-minute pleas for leniency.
The sentence was read out inside the heavily-guarded premises of Rohtak jail in Haryana by CBI judge Jagdeep Singh, who sentenced Singh under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (rape),
Singh was pronounced guilty for the rapes on Friday by the CBI court in Haryana’s Panchkula. Minutes after his conviction, hundreds of his followers went on a rampage, burning down buildings, railway stations and vehiclessection 506 (criminal intimidation) and section 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman).
After the judgement
Lockdown and high alert
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court judge Jagdeep Singh, who had on Friday held the Dera chief guilty of rape and criminal intimidation of two female disciples in 2002, will be flown to Rohtak for announcing the sentence.
The district jail premises, about 10 km from Rohtak town, has been completely cordoned off by security forces, including para-military forces and Haryana Police. The Army has been kept on stand-by.
No movement of people, other than those authorised, will be allowed within a distance of 10km from the prison premises.
“We are fully prepared for any situation. The army has been kept on stand-by,” Haryana director general of police (DGP) BS Sandhu said.
Rohtak range Inspector General (IG) Navdeep Singh Virk said that 28 companies of para-military forces, along with Haryana Police, have been deployed in Rohtak.
Security forces were on high alert again on Monday in Haryana and Punjab as both states braced for the sentencing.
Curfew was reimposed in Haryana’s Sirsa town, where the sect’s headquarters are located, on Sunday. The curfew will continue on Monday.
The sect has lakhs of followers mainly in Punjab and Haryana.
Fears of violence
In a televised appeal before the verdict, Singh asked his supporters not to resort to violence, but some said they would not tolerate a verdict that went against their leader.
The Dera Sacha Sauda sect claims to have 50 million members. It promotes vegetarianism and campaigns against drug addiction and has taken up social causes such as organising the weddings of poor couples.
Such groups have huge followings in India. It is not unusual for leaders to have small, heavily armed private militias protecting them.
Besides the rape charges, Singh was also under investigation over allegations that he convinced 400 of his male followers to undergo castration, charges he denies.
A variety of reasons have been given for why the men agreed to castration, including promises of becoming closer to god.
Singh’s two films, “Messenger of God” and its sequel, include sequences in which he fights off villains and tosses burning motorbikes into the air.
In 2014, six people were killed when followers of another religious leader, guru Rampal, fought with police who were attempting to arrest him for contempt of court.
He had repeatedly failed to appear in court in connection with a murder trial.
Indian “godmen” can summon thousands of supporters to the streets at the drop of a hat. Their systems of patronage and quasi-religious sermons are popular with people who consider the government has failed them.
By Sweta Subudhi