Self-declared spiritual guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has been found guilty of raping two women followers in 2002 and has been sentenced with 20 years of imprisonment (it was initially reported that the sentence was of 10 years’ length). 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. The sect chief has been convicted on two counts for rape (Section 376 IPC), criminal intimidation (Section 506 IPC) and Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).
Rahim, apparently broke down into tears on hearing the verdict, which his lawyers argued has been kept light keeping in mind the good work he had done.
Thousands of soldiers are guarding the prison and the army is on stand by. No civilians are being allowed within 10 km of the prison.
He had been taken into protective custody to Chandimandir military station by the army to make sure that no untoward accident occurs when he was transferred to the central jail in Ambala.
Punjab, Haryana and Delhi have been on high alert in the light of the rape case verdict of Dera Sacha Sauda chief. At least 38 people have died and more than 200 have been injured on account of the rioting that the Dera followers had resorted to after the verdict that convicted their beloved ‘Pitaji’ of rape.
Security personnel have been deployed at sensitive spots in Chandigarh. 74 trains in Haryana had been cancelled, bus services to Chandigarh had been suspended. Mobile internet services had been suspended in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh for 72 hours.
Panchkula is being thronged by over 1 lakh followers, who did not budge in spite of the Guru requesting them to go back. They had allegedly stockpiled weapons. Director General of Punjab Police (Law and Order) in a letter to all zonal IGPs, SSPs and other senior police officers on 22 August informed that Dera followers were storing sharp-edged weapons, stones, petrol, diesel at Dera properties located at various places in Punjab. The police has resorted to using tear gas shells and water cannons to handle growing mobs in Panchkula.
They firmly believe that ‘Pitaji’ (the Dera chief is called father) is innocent and that the allegations levelled against him are all false.
Around 50,000 followers have marched to Sirsa and Panchkula, and this has posed a serious threat to the security as the Dera followers are infamous for making provocative statements.
Tightening the security
Section 144 (that bans the gathering of five or more people besides their movement with arms and ammunition) had been imposed in Sirsa and other districts.
“Besides the police force, 10 companies of paramilitary forces have also been deployed in sensitive areas. We are checking all vehicles entering the town at entry points”, SHO of Sirsa police station reportedly said.
The police in Sirsa on 22 August carried out a flag march restricting entries by installing barricades at 25 places. Cops have appealed to the people to maintain peace and not to pay heed to rumours. A special cell has also been created to monitor the social media.
Meanwhile, security has been tightened outside the CBI Special court in Panchkula where Dera followers have already reached in large numbers.
Home Secretary of Chandigarh administration on 22 August declared Sector 16 cricket stadium as a temporary jail where Dera followers were supposed to stay on the day the verdict comes out.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s not so ‘godly’ record
Rahim has been accused of raping two sadhvis who were members of the Dera Sacha Sauda had accused Singh of rape, and the case was registered in 2002. It was taken up by the Punjab and Haryana high court. However, it was later handed over to the CBI. CBI officials have claimed that they have concrete evidence against Singh.
The agency had charged him with sexually exploiting sadhvis after tracking down two survivors. Their statements have been recorded before a magistrate under section 164 CrPC, which makes them admissible as evidence.
Rahim was accused by Sikh organisations of hurting their religious sentiments after his outfit in an advertisement resembled the attire of the tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh in May 2007. However, the criminal case that was filed was later dropped in 2009.
He has also been accused of forced castration of 400 of his followers, is a prime suspect in a murder of a journalist, Ram Chander Chhatrapati and had come under the police scanner in 2014 for the alleged possession of illegal weapons.
The Logical Indian community appreciates the judgement of court and hopes that this case acts as a precedent for similar charges against fake god-men in India. We also hope that law and order are maintained and that there is no loss of life or property on account of any vandalism.