Dera Sacha chief convicted in rape case

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Panchkula (Haryana)—A special CBI court here Friday convicted Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case, in a verdict pronounced amid unprecedented security cover, over 15 years after an anonymous sexual exploitation complaint was registered against him.

 

The CBI judge Jagdeep Singh while holding the 50-year-old Dera chief guilty of rape said the quantum of sentence will be pronounced on August 28, CBI counsel HPS Verma told reporters outside the court.

 

The punishment can be a jail term not less than seven years but may even extend to life imprisonment.

 

Ram Rahim reached the court in Panchkula, a tiny satellite town of Chandigarh, over five hours after he left the sect-headquarters at Sirsa by road at about 9:am. Sirsa is about 260 km from Chandigarh.

 

Army personnel and central paramilitary forces took positions around the CBI court complex in Panchkula, even as the area close to the complex was sealed.

 

As tension mounted, the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed officers of the Haryana government to use weapons or force, if required, to tackle the situation arising out of the verdict.

 

The sexual exploitation case was registered against the Dera chief in December 2002 by the CBI on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court after an anonymous letter was written to the then Chief Justice about the alleged sexual exploitation of two ‘sadhvis’ (female followers) by him. The Dera chief, however, has denied these charges.

 

The case was registered eight months after the then chief justice received the letter. Ram Rahim is also an accused in two murder cases.

 

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