Military on standby ahead of Indian guru's rape sentencing

Stop treating mob justice as people's will

With this rape convict Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was on Monday sentenced to 20 years in jail by a special CBI court.

In the small town of Sirsa, located 150 miles away from Panchula, thousands of devotees have gathered at the group's headquarters. They turned to his sect for basics like food, medicine and a sense of equality, and their guru's conviction was an unimaginable fall from grace.

The CBI court in 2008 had ordered framing of charges of rape against Gurmeet Ram Rahim and the trial began, which ended on Monday with the pronouncement of qunatum of punishment in the case.

Police sources said some dera followers had planned mass suicide if their leader was convicted.

The case has also highlighted the Indian heartland's fascination with spiritual gurus, who enjoy vast political clout for their ability to mobilise millions of followers frustrated by the shortcomings of the state.

It was hearing a PIL filed by a Panchkula resident Ravinder Dhull, a lawyer, who had raised law and order concerns and stated that over 1.5 lakh people had reportedly entered the district earlier despite prohibitory orders. In May that year, the sect was embroiled in violent confrontations with the followers of the Sikh faith after Ram Rahim allegedly imitated the tenth Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh- an act considered sacrilegious in Sikhism. He hailed the CBI's investigation in the rape case against the Dera head. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh also appealed for peace and said that everyone should accept the sentence that has been given by the court.

On the issue of attachment of properties of the Dera, it was asked whether the Dera Sacha Sauda can be asked to give security and surety for payment of compensation during the pendency of these proceedings, Gupta told reporters later outside the court.

This anonymous letter written in 2002 led to an investigation by India's Central Bureau of Investigation against Gurmeet Ram Rahim.

The Dera chief has been punished for rape and criminal intimidation. Inside the gufa, the woman found Ram Rahim watching television with a pistol by his side.

The woman and her relatives claimed they were harassed and coerced to not pursue the case but they didn't relent. However, he added that the verdict will be challenged in the High Court.

Media will not be allowed to cover the proceedings of the special court.

Mahajan informed the court that 1,039 people have been arrested and 63 FIRs registered, 103 Dera centres sanitised so far.

For more news and updates, follow SBS Punjabi on Facebook and Twitter.

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