Indian self-styled guru jailed for 10 years for rape
HARYANA (92 News) – A controversial Indian self-styled spiritual guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh convicted of rape on Friday has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
According to Indian media reports, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s followers had set two vehicles on fire just ahead of sentencing. Violence after Friday’s verdict in Panchkula in northern Haryana state had killed some 38 people.
The 50-year-old chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect wept as he was sentenced at a jail in Haryana’s Rohtak by Judge Jagdeep Singh, who flew down by a government helicopter to conduct a prison-side court hearing.
The self-styled holy man was found guilty of sexually assaulting two female followers. A curfew has been imposed in several areas of Haryana and Punjab states, while the capital Delhi is on alert.
The army has been put on standby and police say they have been given “shoot on sight” orders in case of trouble. Singh, 50, was not taken to court to hear his sentence. Instead, the judge who convicted him was flown to Rohtak jail where he is being held.
The prison has been transformed into a fortress, with journalists banned within a 1.5km (one mile) radius. Rohtak town, in Haryana state, is also under police and military lockdown, the roads lined with barbed-wire barricades. There is also heavy security outside Singh’s 1,000-acre compound in Sirsa, Haryana.
Schools and colleges will remain closed. Mobile internet services were cut in Haryana last Thursday, and the ban has been extended for a further 48 hours. Tens of thousands of his supporters are still believed to be inside the Dera Sacha Sauda sect headquarters, despite many opting to leave following a tense stand-off with soldiers. The Dera’s Sirsa headquarters is a huge township that houses schools, a hospital and a cinema.