Rohtak (Haryana): Self-styled spiritual guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, 50, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the rape of two women followers. He was sentenced at a jail in Haryana's Rohtak by Judge Jagdeep Singh who flew down by government helicopter to conduct prison-side court proceedings.
Before pronouncing the punishment, the judge had allowed each side 10 minutes to present their case. The CBI had sought life term for Ram Rahim, while the defence asked for a lighter sentence.
The Dera Chief, who considered him 'God' and ruined the life of many without extending any mercy to his victims, broke down in the court and sought pardon.
Ram Rahim's lawyers, who today pleaded for a lighter sentence in view of his philanthrophic work, have said they will appeal in a higher court. The CBI, which had sought a life sentence has said it will push for more punishment; sources in the agency said they have already moved an application for a longer prison term.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted by the CBI Court of raping two women followers in 2002. He was flown in a government helicopter, reportedly to Rohtak, immediately afeter the court verdict.
Over 1,50,000 members of Ram Rahim's Dera Sacha Sauda had gathered in Panchkula in a show of support before Friday's verdict. Violent protests followed across his power base in the Haryana, with police deploying tear gas and water cannons, with little impact.
At least 38 people were killed in Panchkula in Haryana and a train near Delhi has been set on fire by unruly moby after a CBI Court on Friday found Dera Sacha Sauda Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty in a rape case.
More than 200 people were reportedly injured in the violent protest. The rioters have torched at least two railway stations, a power grid and petrol pumps in Haryana.
The violence spread quickly to other towns including Bhatinda in Punjab and Sirsa in Haryana, where Ram Rahim's headquarters are located on a campus that extends to hundreds of acres.
In Delhi, a train has been set on fire in Anand Vihar and two buses have also been torched in Nand Nagri. Many media persons, have also been attacked.
The government's claims of keeping the situation under control have fallen flat. The police was caught on camera retreating as Ram Rahim supporters advanced menacingly.
Haryana Jail Minister says Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim will be lodged in a Guest House at the Sunaria Jail in Rohtak.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that the state administration cannot be blamed for the ongoing violence in the state of Haryana, adding that the state administration had taken all the precautionary measures.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court orders attachment of all properties owned by the Dera Sacha Sauda chief to compensate for all the destruction caused by the spiritual leader's supporters. The HC has also indicated that the policemen involved will be punished.
According to NDTV, Ram Rahim arrived for the verdict in a 200-car cavalcade and stood with his eyes closed and hands folded in prayer as the verdict was delivered. By last night, Panchkula was over-run by more than one lakh followers of Ram Rahim - clusters of them proliferated over the last two days, despite the Haryana government's claims of roping off the city.