In the most awaited Ram Rahim rape case verdict at Panchkula court, today, the Dera chief is found guilty of rape and is taken in judicial custody.
He was convicted by a special CBI court in Panchkula, today. He was immediately taken into judicial custody. The quantum of sentence will be given on Monday.
The accused was present in court when the judgment was read out. A rape conviction carries a minimum sentence of seven years and a maximum of 10 years. The court delivered its verdict in the case against Ram Rahim after 14 long years and amid unprecedented security as thousands of Dera followers gathered in Panchkula ahead of the judgment.
In fact, just two hours before the verdict, the Punjab and Haryana high court told the Haryana government it can go ahead and use force when required and file FIRs against any Gurmeet Ram Rahim follower breaking the law or making provocative statements. In view of that, Haryana’s chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar affirmed that his government was ready to deal with any fallout from the verdict.
He said, “Whatever the verdict, will implement it. Ready to deal with any circumstances, security arrangements are in place, I appeal for peace and calm,” said Khattar.
Ahead of the verdict on Friday, Army columns moved into Panchkula early in the morning. Also, around 53 companies of the paramilitary forces and 50,000 personnel of the Haryana Police were deployed in the states of Haryana and Punjab.
The 50-year-old Gurmeet Ram Rahim left the sect-headquarters at Sirsa, about 260km from Chandigarh, at about 9am, in a huge convoy. The Haryana director general of police (DGP) was asked if there were 200-plus vehicles in the Dera chief’s convoy. He didn’t confirm that number but did say that the convoy size would be cut en route to Panchkula.
“Only a couple of cars which include escort vehicles will be allowed,” said BS Sandhu, the Haryana DGP.
The case came to light back in 2002, when a Dera sadhvi wrote an anonymous letter to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee saying she was raped by the Dera chief. In the letter, the sadhvi also accused Gurmeet Ram Rahim of raping several other female followers inside the sprawling Dera campus on the outskirts of Sirsa in the state of Haryana.