Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim has been sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment – and not 10 as reported earlier – in two cases of raping minors 15 years ago. Special CBI judge Jagdeep Singh said the two sentences of 10 years each will run consecutively, and not concurrently.
The 50-year-old flamboyant Dera chief, who has millions of followers and counts politicians as well as celebrities as his friends, has also been slapped a fine of Rs 15 lakh in each case, with the court ordering that Rs 14 lakh from them should be paid to each survivor, who were part of his sect and were coerced into having sex with him.
The confusion of a 10-year sentence, reported by almost every news outlet earlier in the day, happened because the copy of the court order was not available to mediapersons earlier.
A CBI spokesperson said, “Baba Ram Rahim has been sentenced for 20 years. He will remain 20 years in jail as per the sentencing. It’s 10 plus 10 years sentence in two cases, and the sentence will run one after the other consecutively and not concurrently, plus a fine of Rs 15 lakh each in two cases.”
Lawyer for victims tells that they are moving to Court for enhancement of sentence to life imprisonment.
“We are moving for enhancement of sentence to life imprisonment and for further CBI investigation into other rape victims as there are 50 according to victims.”
During the hearing of arguments in the court before the sentencing, the prosecution asked for maximum punishment for Singh. The defence argued Singh is a social worker who has worked for the welfare of people and asked for leniency.
Special CBI judge Jagdeep Singh had allotted 10 minutes each to both sides to put forth their arguments. Judge Jagdeep Singh landed in Rohtak in a helicopter to deliver the sentence in the prison.
Thousands of paramilitary troops and anti-riot police have blocked off all roads in the area. Military sources said the Army can enter Rohtak in about an hour if needed. Barbed-wire barriers have been erected and residents have been warned to stay indoors in Rohtak.
Large gatherings are banned in the city. Mobile internet services remain suspended. All schools and colleges in Haryana are closed.
“We have made multi-layered arrangements so that nobody is able to reach the venue (prison) or enter Rohtak district itself,” police deputy inspector general Navdeep Singh Virk said, “I am fully confident everything will go on peacefully and there will be no untoward incident.”