Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim gets 20 years’ jail, Rs 30 lakh fine for raping two women
Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge Jagdeep Singh pronounced the quantum of sentence in the designated special court created in the library of the Sunaria Jail in Rohtak.
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CHANDIGARH: Self-styled Godman and Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was today sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for the rape and criminal intimidation of two ‘Sadhvis’ (women followers) who were residing in a hostel located on the premises of the dera back in 1999. He was also slapped with a fine of Rs 30 lakh.
The sentence is 10 years each for two rapes that will run consecutively, and not concurrently. The fine is also Rs 15 lakh in each case, of which Rs 14 lakh each must be paid to each victim.
Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge Jagdeep Singh pronounced the quantum of sentence in the designated special court created in the library of the Sunaria Jail in Rohtak. Singh was flown down in a government helicopter to conduct court proceedings. Both the prosecution and defence lawyers were given 10 minutes each to put forward their arguments on the quantum of sentence. The CBI lawyers sought the maximum sentence calling it the rarest-of--rare case, whereas as the defence pleaded for leniency on grounds of the social work done by Ram Rahim and on the grounds that he had health issues.
As per rules in rape cases with a sentence of 10-years, the sentence will not be suspended for at least the next two to three years, said legal experts.
There was drama inside the special court room as Ram Rahim, who was wearing a white kurta pajama and tied a white cloth on his head, stood in front of the judge with folded hands and requested him for mercy. Later he broke down.
After the sentence was pronounced, Ram Rahim sat down on the floor and wept but he was taken away by jail wardens back to his prison cell. His new identity is Prisoner No 1997.
Ram Rahim was immediately medically examined by doctors and found to be fine. The two suit cases he had brought with him to the jail on Friday were reportedly returned to his lawyers, as he would now be treated as an ordinary prisoner.
Ram Rahim’s lawyers demanded that he be shifted from Rohtak jail, said sources. Later, coming out of the court, defence council SK Narwana said, “We will challenge the judgment in the higher court; we will file an appeal.’’
The special CBI court at the Panchkula district court on Friday had convicted Ram Rahim on charges of rape under Sections 376 and 506 of the IPC and later transported by a plush helicopter (for security reasons) to Sunaria Jail.
It all started in 2002 when an anonymous letter was sent to then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the then Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court by the two Sadhvis that they had been sexually exploited by the Dera chief. In September that year, the high court handed over the inquiry to the CBI and on July 30, 2007 the central agency filed a chargesheet in court.
The court on September 6, 2008 framed charges against the Dera chief. On April 5, 2011 the case was transferred from Ambala to a special court in Panchkula. In 2014, Gurmeet Ram Rahim’ statement was recorded after examination of the prosecution witnesses, and on August 17 arguments concluded in the case.
Immediately after his conviction on Friday, large-scale violence broke out in Panchkula and Sirsa and at other places in Haryana and neighbouring Punjab which left 38 people dead and 267 injured.
Son of murdered journalist who exposed Ram Rahim welcomes verdict
Anshul Chhatrapati, the son of murdered Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chandra Chhatrapati, welcomed the CBI special court judgment. “ Though he should have been given life imprisonment, I am satisfied with the order of the court. It has given us strength to our fight against his might,’’ he said. Chhatrapati was murdered in October 2002 allegedly for exposing the ‘misdeeds’ of Ram Rahim in his vernacular newspaper “Poora Sach”. He was shot dead allegedly by sect supporters at Ram Rahim’s behest.
The murder case is pending before the special CBI court in Panchkula and hearing of final arguments is likely to be held next month.
Several CBI cases against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
1) The killing of Haryana-based journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati for his writings against the Dera is also under trial. Chhatrapati was shot on August 24, 2002 by two alleged dera supporters. While one of the accused was caught on the spot, the other was arrested a few days later. Chhatrapati succumbed to the gunshot wounds on November 21, 2002. A case was then registered by the CBI.
2) Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is one of the accused in the Ranjit Singh murder case. Singh, who had distanced himself from the Dera, was called to Sirsa in June 2002 and threatened by accused Avtar Singh and Inder Sain to seek apology from Gurmeet Ram Rahim for having circulated anonymous letters. In July 2002, he was found shot dead.
3) In 2014, the CBI has also registered a case on the directions of Punjab and Haryana High Court against Ram Rahim for the forcible castration of 400 followers. Investigations are still in the case and the central agency has recorded the statements of about a dozen such victims.
4) In another case, the CBI filed a closure report in 2010 as there were allegations that the dera chief and three others had hatched a conspiracy and got his driver Faquir Chand disappeared in 1991.
Sedition case against Dera followers
Twenty-four people, including six women (Garima, Parul and Neha from Fatehabad, Sheena from Hansi, Amarjeet Kaur and Gurjeet Kaur from Sirsa) have been arrested for sedition and other heinous charges while 15 others have been held for breach of prohibitory orders in Sirsa. They were nabbed on April 25.