Sect leader jailed for 20 years for raping female followers

Sight, sound of fear from 100 yards away

However, the two states were still on high alert to prevent any incidence of violence or arson as was witnessed in Panchkula on Friday last after conviction of the Dera chief by the CBI court.

No untoward incident was reported from Sirsa after the pronouncement of the quantum of sentence of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who has been convicted in a rape case, a senior Haryana government official said today. The information of it was given by a man who was in jail and is now out on bail.

The high court dismissed all the revision petitions filed between March 2016 and July 2017 after Assistant Solicitor General Chetan Mittal and CBI lawyer Sumeet Goel argued against them.

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.

"Such criminal acts of a particular individual/convict, who is heading a religious organisation known as Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa, are bound to shatter the images of pious and sacred spiritual, social, cultural and religious institutions existing in the country since time immemorial, which in turn reflects irreparable damages caused by the acts of the convict to the heritage of this ancient land", the judgment added.

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.

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The then prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had received an anonymous letter from a Dera Sadhvi that she was being raped by Ram Rahim Singh.

The conviction verdict had led to large-scale violence in Panchkula, adjoining Chandigarh, and Sirsa in Haryana by sect followers which left 38 people dead and 264 injured. When Singh kept bawling outside the court, security personnel warned him that if he doesn't follow the rules, he will be taken inside the jail forcefully.

He said about 4,000 government troops, including army and paramilitary soldiers, were patrolling the tiny town and the area outside the ashram.

The Haryana police claimed they have made sufficient security arrangements to ensure peace and harmony.

Thousands of his supporters are still believed to be inside the Dera Sacha Sauda sect headquarters, despite many opting to leave following a tense stand-off with soldiers. Service was restored Tuesday morning.

The disgraced self-styled godman was in tears and begged for mercy when he was sentenced by CBI judge Jagdeep Singh on August 28.

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