RohtakA special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Monday awarded 20-year jail term to Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh after convicting him for raping two of his women followers between 1991 and 2001.
CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh pronounced two sentences of 10 years rigorous imprisonment in each of the two cases that date back to 2002, said defence lawyer SK Garg Narwana.
He said both sentences will run consecutively for a total of 20 years in jail for the flamboyant guru, who has millions of followers and counts politicians as well as celebrities as his friends.
Singh also fined him Rs 15 lakh in each of the two cases, of which Rs 14 lakh each would go to the two victims who were part of his sect and were coerced into having sex with him.
The defence counsel sought leniency from the court arguing that Ram Rahim was active in social work and had health issues. He said he will appeal against the orders in a high court.
The sentence was passed in a special courtroom set up inside the Sunaria jail where Ram Rahim, the 50-year-old self-proclaimed godman, is lodged since last Friday after he was convicted.
Media reports said he broke down and begged for forgiveness with folded hands when the first sentence was passed.
The judge was brought to Rohtak by a helicopter from Chandigarh and landed at a helipad near the jail located on the outskirts of Rohtak.
‘Thodi ji riyayat,’ High Drama Inside Courtroom as Godman Pleads for Mercy
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh may have acted like a superhero in his films, but in real life, he was all tears pleading for mercy after a court sentenced him to 20 years in jail.
It is obvious that the conviction in the rape case and the 20 years jail has brought the self-styled godmans world crashing down.
Just a few days back, he was playing the role of a popular spiritual guru and now he has been reduced to the status of a criminal, one who has been convicted and sentenced to 20 years in jail. Such great fall was hard for Dera chief to accept, which is why he started crying and pleading for mercy when the CBI court announced its judgment.
With folded hands, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh pleading mercy at Rohtak jail-turned-court was very different from the self-styled Godman who was brought to the same jail in a chopper on Friday.
‘Thodi ji riyayat (have some mercy),’ sobbing Gurmeet kept on saying while special CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh heard both the defence and the prosecution.
Though his defence sought for leniency on grounds of ‘poor health’, ‘public figure’ and his ‘philanthropic work’ for the society, the prosecution demanded for maximum punishment for Gurmeet Ram Rahim.
The moment Judge Jagdeep Singh announced the sentence, Gurmeet Ram Rahim broke down.
The security personnel had to drag him out of the court as the stunned ‘Bling Baba’ refused to move around.
While being forcefully taken away to the jail, Gurmeet Ram Rahim kept on crying, ‘koi mujhe bacha lo (somebody save me).’
The court not only sentenced him to 20 years in prison, but it also came down heavily on the jail authorities for the VVIP treatment given to Gurmeet Ram Rahim.
What is so special about him that he is being treated like a VVIP, the court asked.
According to reports, CBI court also directed jail officials to give jail uniform to convict Ram Rahim and also said that he would not be permitted to carry his personal clothes.
To avoid more trouble it was decided that CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh should pronounce the sentence in the jail, rather than bring Ram Rahim back to his court in Panchkula, near Chandigarh.
Singh arrived in Rohtak in a helicopter, landing on a helipad near the jail located on the outskirts of Rohtak.
A multi-layer security cordon manned by police and 23 companies of paramilitary forces was thrown in and around Rohtak and also around the jail. The Army has been kept on standby while all routes to the jail were sealed.
At least 38 people were killed and hundreds injured on Friday in Haryana and Punjab, which had seen widespread violence by his followers after his conviction on Friday. Most of the dead were shot by police who had opened fire to quell the protests.
Haryana and Punjab remained on high alert with officials warning that violent miscreants will be shot at sight, describing the security situation as “challenging.”
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. The case was registered by the CBI in December 2002 on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The CBI filed the chargesheet against the Dera head in Ambala court in July 2007. The chargesheet mentions sexual exploitation of two ‘Sadhvis’ (women followers) between 1999 and 2001.
The special CBI court framed charges against Ram Rahim under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC in September 2008. Between 2009 and 2010, the two complainants recorded their statements before the court.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.