Judge sends Indian guru to jail for 20 years in rapes

Dera Ashram in South City 2

Dera Ashram in South City 2

The disgraced self-styled godman was on Monday sentenced by CBI special court judge Jagdeep Singh to rigorous imprisonment for 20 years and a fine of over Rs 30 lakh.

The sentence was pronounced Monday amid intense security at a prison in the northern town of Rohtak, where the guru, who calls himself Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, has been in a prison since his conviction Friday.

"We will file two appeals shortly". Ram Rahim's fate should be an object lesson to all those who develop illusions of invincibility.

The investigation, according to the judgment, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, has stated that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh sexually exploited these women at his 'gufa' or cave in the dera where they were put on sentry duty.

He said about 4,000 government troops, including army and paramilitary soldiers, were patrolling the tiny town and the area outside the ashram.

In his monthly radio address on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it was "natural to be worried" after days of violence which had briefly reached Delhi.

A senior police officer in Haryana told the press today "tough action will be taken against the rioters". He said bus service in 16 districts had been suspended in view of the law and order situation following verdict of CBI Court in Ram Rahim case.

Slamming Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, he asked why was such a large crowd of supporters allowed to gather in Panchkula, despite more than adequate warning from the state intelligence, media and the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

A judge was flown in by helicopter to sentence the spiritual leader known as the "guru in bling" for his penchant for bejewelled costumes.

"A library in the jail has been converted into a courtroom", said Rajiv Pant, an official in charge of prisons.

The guru, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was found guilty on Friday of having raped two women more than a decade ago.

Revealing other startling facts, the CBI investigation has stated that the Dera chief threatened the two rape victims if they disclose his wrongdoings.

Violent protests followed, with police deploying tear gas and using a water cannon.

Speaking on his monthly radio program "Mann ki Baat" ("Straight From the Heart") on Sunday, Modi reminded listeners that India was the home of "Gandhi and Lord Buddha" and that violence was not in the country's culture.

"Violence is not acceptable in the nation, in any form", he said in his monthly radio address. There is no mistaking the fact that Sacha Sauda was largely a refuge for the disadvantaged sections of society in Haryana and Punjab and was conceived as far back as 1948 as a reaction to the treatment they received at the hands of the upper castes and the rich.

India has been rocked by numerous scandals involving popular ascetics claiming to possess mystical powers.

Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa has a sprawling compound which also houses a multi-specialty hospital, a stadium, a bevy of luxury vehicles.

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