Indian spiritual guru gets 20 years in prison

Indian spiritual guru gets 20 years in prison

Indian spiritual guru gets 20 years in prison

A well-known Indian guru was sentenced to 10 years in jail Monday for raping two of his followers, a decision which sparked violent protests among his followers according to news reports.

The 50-year-old chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect said, "Mujhe Maaf Karo (forgive me)", and wept as he was sentenced to a jail in Haryana's Rohtak by Judge Jagdeep Singh, who flew down by a government helicopter to conduct a prison-side court hearing.

Both sentences will run consecutively.

Thousands of riot police have been deployed to defuse hundreds of violent incidents that have left at least 38 people dead and almost 250 injured.

8000 paramilitary police have been sequestered for Punjab's streets after over a 130 deras (campuses) in Punjab and Haryana were raided by security forces, who recovered petrol bombs and AK-47 rifles in them.

As death and destruction engulfed Panchkula, the district administration imposed curfew.

Authorities have imposed a security clampdown on the city of Rohtak where Singh is being held due to fears of a repeat of Friday's violence, when tens of thousands of his supporters set fire to cars and clashed with security forces. The then prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had received an anonymous letter from a Dera Sadhvi that she was being raped by Ram Rahim.

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Few details were immediately available following the sentencing, but the guru's lawyers can appeal the verdict to a higher court.

- A notification has been issued to make arrangements for setting of CBI Court in Sunaria District Jail, Panchkula for pronouncement of quantum of sentence against Ram Rahim Singh.

The organization has close to 50 branches throughout the country, boasting 60 million followers - mainly from Haryana, Punjab and New Delhi.

He is the star of five films and numerous popular music videos, including the "Messenger of God", in which he acts as the hero who saves the nation. "Also, schools colleges and other educations institutions will also remain open during the period", Special Commissioner (Civil), V Umashankar told PTI.

There had been 60 preventive arrests in the state so far, he further said.

Soon after the verdict, the followers went on a rampage, damaging public property, stoning security personnel and attacking and setting ablaze media vehicles and outdoor broadcast vans using petrol, which the supporters had previously stocked up.

The sect campaigns for vegetarianism and against drug addiction. It also organises blood-donation and tree-planting drives. Many maintain private militias for their protection. The prosecution, reportedly, had demanded the maximum punishment for the rape convict. He was charged with conspiracy involving the murder of an investigative journalist in 2002 and several female followers claim he sexually assaulted them but he has never been convicted.

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