Gurmeet Ram Rahim Sentencing: The Dera chief was found guilty of raping two women followers.
Self-styled spiritual guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
was on Monday sentenced to 20 years in prison for the rape of two women followers in 2002, by a judge who flew by government helicopter to conduct court at a prison in Haryana's Rohtak. The 50-year-old chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect sat on the floor and wept as he was sentenced
. Ahead of the judge's order on Monday, thousands of soldiers enforced a lockdown in Rohtak and other parts of Haryana and Punjab, where Ram Rahim has a mass following. His followers went on a deadly rampage after he was convicted on Friday, with 38 people killed and over 200 injured in the violence. There were no reports of violence on Monday after Ram Rahim was sentenced.
Here are the 10 latest developments in this big story:
- Ram Rahim will serve two 10-year terms consecutively in the two rape cases, Judge Jagdeep Singh ruled and has also fined him Rs 15 lakh in each case, of which 14 lakh will be given to each of the women. "Mujhe maaf kar do (Please forgive me)," said Ram Rahim as he wept in court, pleading that he is innocent. His lawyers sought a lighter sentence in view of what they called his humanitarian work. They said they will appeal in a higher court.
- The two women who accused Ram Rahim of raping them 15 years ago have sought more punishment for him and their lawyer asked investigators to probe dozens more alleged cases of abuse. The CBI has asked the court to consider a longer prison term for the Dera chief.
- Ram Rahim was medically examined and then was shifted to his small cell at the Rohtak jail as prisoner number 1997. Since Friday, when he was flown to Rohtak in a luxury helicopter, Ram Rahim reportedly occupied a special cell and was given bottled water and was allowed an assistant amid massive criticism.
- "The situation in the state is peaceful, strict action will be taken against those who try to disturb peace," said Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar, after an emergency meeting with top ministers, bureaucrats and police officers at his home in Chandigarh.
- The CBI court judge delivered sentence at the Rohtak prison on Monday to prevent a repeat of Friday's violence. Tens of thousands of Ram Rahim's supporters set fire to cars and clashed with security forces on Friday in violence that began outside the court in the town of Panchkula and spread to other places.
- The police had deployed tear gas and water cannons, but with little impact. It was clear that the authorities had grossly underestimated the risk posed by the army of Ram Rahim's devotees.
- On Monday, thousands of paramilitary troops and anti-riot police blocked all roads near the Rohtak prison. The Army has been on standby. The residents were warned to stay indoors and large gatherings were banned in Rohtak. All schools and colleges in Haryana were also closed.
- Senior members of Ram Rahim's Dera Sacha Sauda sect were placed under detention as a precautionary measure. Over the weekend, more than 100 branches of the sect were sanitised and sealed across Haryana. Petrol cans and sticks were found stockpiled.
- The police in Sirsa, where Ram Rahim's 1,000-acre main base is located, have been urging his devotees to emerge from the campus. Tens of thousands left Sirsa for their homes in buses since Sunday. The police said thousands still remain and are refusing to leave. The Dera chief's followers insist the flamboyant Ram Rahim is innocent.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned on Sunday that "violence is not acceptable in the nation, in any form". But his party, the BJP, which governs Haryana, has come under heavy fire for failing to prevent the outbreak of violence and allowing the 50-year-old guru to travel in a luxury chopper to jail.
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