- Dera Sacha Sauda chief sentenced to 20 years in jail in rape case today
- Flamboyant guru, star of 2 movies, is accused in journalist's murder
- Has courted both the Congress and BJP, seen as close to politicians
Ram Rahim, age 50, counted film stars, cricketers and politicians among his legions of supporters.
But the most devoted were the vast numbers of everyday people who flocked to his sprawling, 1,000-acre headquarters in Sirsa in Haryana to hear his lectures. There, delirious devotees often wept with joy upon glimpsing in person; many fell at his feet for blessings.
His, however, was anything but a simple life.
He was dubbed the "guru in bling" for his flamboyant wardrobe replete with rhinestones, leather, zips and sequins.
He travelled in a convoy of SUVs, some of them bulletproof, starred in pop videos including the popular but often-mocked "Love Charger" and launched his own "Messenger of God" movie franchise in which he performed miracles, preached to thousands and beat up gangsters in between singing and dancing.
But there were recurring charges of violence, cover-up, an empire that allowed its chief to get away with murder.
A local journalist who covered the case was later killed. Ram Rahim faces a conspiracy charge for alleged involvement, which he denies.
He is also being investigated for allegedly persuading up to 400 of his followers to undergo castration in 2015.
Recent images, now being circulated by opponents of the BJP, show him taking part in a cleanliness drive with Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar, who has been criticized for failing to prevent Ram Rahim's supporters from going on a violent rampage after his conviction on Friday. 38 people died in the riots; over 200 were injured.
According to his website, he was born on August 15, 1967, the only child of wealthy parents in western Rajasthan.
"Soon, his parents realised that he wasn't merely a child but the image of the lord. And thus, they never hurt him physically or verbally," says his profile. He is married and has two daughters and a son. In 2009 he adopted one of his female followers, Honeypreet Insan, who reportedly calls herself "papa's angel" and is thought to be his intended successor.
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