Rohtak: A CBI special court on Monday sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim to 20 years in prison for the 2002 rape cases.
Immediately after the sentence, Ram Rahim - Qaidi number (prisoner number) 1997 - was taken away for medical examination. He will soon be given a jail uniform and allotted prison cell.
CBI judge Jagdeep Singh flew to Rohtak's Sunaria jail via chopper to pronounce the quantum of sentence on Monday morning.
The defence lawyer, in his closing arguments, claimed that the Dera chief is a social worker who has works for the welfare of people, so the judge should take a lenient view and give him minimum sentence.
The 50-year-old self-styled godman, also the lead actor of MSG film franchise, was held guilty of raping two 'sadhvis' or female followers 15 years inside the Dera premises on Friday afternoon.
Following the conviction, deadly riots ensued in Panchkula and surrounding areas, killing 38 and injuring over 250 people. The mob – consisting of Dera followers – set scores of vehicles, including private and government cars and media vans, on fire. Police and fire brigade vehicles were also set on fire. Several mediapersons were also injured in the incident.
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A multilayer security cordon was thrown around the Rohtak district jail with 28 columns of paramilitary forces being deployed in the area. The army was on standby in Rohtak and Sirsa. Curfew has been placed in few districts of Punjab and Haryana. Security has enhanced outside Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar's residence. Delhi-NCR has also been placed on high alert.
Security forces recovered two AK-47s, a Mauser, two pistols, rods and sticks during investigation and searches. Five guards from Ram Rahim's Z-Plus security, which has now been taken away, have been arrested after they tried to obstruct the policemen who were taking Ram Rahim to jail.
Over the weekend, Army stationed itself outside the Dera headquarters campus, which is spread over 700-acres of land. Nearly 30,000 Dera followers inside the campus refused to vacate the headquarters, despite repeated Army commands.
Condemning the violence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his 'Mann ki Baat' address to the nation on Sunday, said, “No one has the right to take the law into's one's own hands in the name of one's beliefs, adding that I want to assure my countrymen that those who take law into their own hands and are on the path of violent suppression, whether it is a group or a person – neither this country nor any government will tolerate it.”