The Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Ram Rahim is sentenced to 10 years in prison by a special CBI court today. For the precautionary measure, the sentencing was held in Sunaria jail of Rohtak. A set-up (special court) like the court was prepared in the jail premises to avoid a repeat of the deadly violence that erupted following the announcement of the conviction of the Dera head on Friday in a rape case.
The Judge Jagdeep Singh along with the court staff came to the Rohtak from Chandigarh by helicopter in the morning. Prior to the hearing, Rohtak was put on a high alert. The deputy commissioner of Rohtak, Atul Kumar, cleared earlier that the shoot at sight orders has been issued. He also said that three-tier security ring has been arranged at around Sunaria district jail. “We will not allow anyone to create any sort of trouble in Rohtak. Anyone breaking law or indulging in acts of violence or arson will himself be responsible for his fate. Anyone creating trouble will be given a warning first and if he still pays no heed, then he will have to face the bullet,” he added.
According to the reports flashing on the TV news channels, Singh broke down in court and begged for fewer sentence before the judge announced his sentence. The ANI reported that the followers of Dera head set ablaze two cars in Phoolka area of Haryana’s Sirsa while the sentence verdict session was ongoing. The CBI asked for the lifetime prison for the Dera head, while his lawyer requested for leniency because of his social work record. The Dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted of raping two female followers on August 25 by the special CBI trial court. A case was filed in 2002 against the Dera head when an anonymous letter written by the complainant reached the Punjab and Haryana High Court and later to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The letter by the complainant said, “One night, at about 10 pm, I was called by Guru Maharaj to his gufa (den). I found him … with a revolver lying next to his pillow. He told me that as I, a sadhvi, had dedicated my mind and body to the ‘seva‘of the guru, he, the guru, wanted to claim his due. When I protested, he told me that I should have no doubt he indeed was God. ‘Didn’t Lord Krishna make love to his gopis every night? Yet people regard him as a god,’ he told me. When I was still not convinced, he told me he could shoot me here and now and no one would raise a finger, not even my parents. ‘The chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana and many central ministers come and touch my feet. I can get your family members removed from their jobs and get them killed if you protest,’ he told me.”
“There are about 40 unmarried women between 35-40 years of age in the ashram regarded as devis. We are not allowed to even look at another man, have to keep our heads covered with a white dupatta … But our life here is worse than that of prostitutes. Even if our parents call we are not allowed to talk to them without the guru’s permission. If any sadhvi goes back home and tells her family members about what has happened to her, goondas from the deras threaten the family members with death threats, forcing them to keep quiet. If you get the sadhvis of the dera medically examined you will learn that they are not sadhvis..,” the letter added.
On the other hand, the Dera head is also accused of the murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati, who published bluntly about the rape accusations against Singh in his newspaper Poora Sachh. That murder case is being heard in the CBI court in Panchkula, the same court that found Singh guilty of rape.