'Guru of bling' gets 20 years for raping two of his followers

16:00 Vandana Shukla is a resident of Panchkula here is what she saw in the vicinity in the aftermath of the Dera violence

At 3.30 pm on Monday, the Special CBI court judge pronounced the first verdict awarding him a 10 year sentence.

Sirsa town is home to the sprawling Dera headquarters where the sect's followers had gathered in large numbers ahead of Ram Rahim's conviction.

Jagdeep and his family were constantly intimidated and had received threat calls from Dera followers.

According to sources, Gurmeet with an interest luxury cars and expensive self-designed dresses led the life of a king in his Dera spread in 700 acres in Sirsa before his arrest and conviction in the rape case.

The Central Bureau of Investigation said Singh would serve two consecutive ten-year terms for the two rapes.

Defence counsel sought leniency from the court arguing that Ram Rahim was active in social work and had health issues. The prosecution wanted the case to be treated as "rarest of the rare". A day earlier on Saturday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had observed that the BJP ruled Haryana government had politically surrendered to the mobs "just to allure the vote bank" and how "administrative decisions were paralysed because of political considerations".

Reports said that the Dera chief broke down in court and pleaded for leniency while the judge was reading out the sentence.

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When Gurmeet Ram Rahim complained to the judge that he wasn't given tea in jail when he asked for it, the judge said that he would be entitled to whatever other prisoners get under the prison manual.

The CBI has successfully kept the identity of the two victims under wraps since 2002 when the rapes came to light through an anonymous letter by two women, residing in the Dera as sadhvis, alleging rape by the Dera chief. A makeshift court was created in the jail library for the proceedings and a multi-layered security cordon was thrown around the Rohtak jail.

On Monday, a small convoy of army vehicles moved through Panchkula's streets in a show of force meant to discourage Singh's supporters from staging more violence.

Talking about the possibility of firearms being there in the sect headquarters, Umashankar said that some weapons were in the name of Dera and some were registered in the names of individuals. Curfew continued in affected areas of Sirsa district.

The Dera chief has been fined Rs 15 lakh in each case, of which 14 lakh each will be given to the women he raped.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh yesterday met Governor V P Singh Badnore to apprise him of the law and order situation and the steps taken by his government to prevent any breakdown of law and order in the wake of the sentencing of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief. A curfew was also imposed in Rohtak.

"This court is of the considered view that when the convict did not spare even his own pious disciples and acted like a wild beast, he does not deserve any mercy", he observed in the verdict.

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