Chandigarh, Aug 25, 2017: Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was found guilty of rape by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Panchkula on Friday.
He was immediately taken into judicial custody. However, the quantum of punishment is schedule for August 28.
Trial court judge Jagdeep Singh announced the verdict amid unprecedented security here. The sentence will be pronounced by the court on Monday.
The sect chief was present in the court when the judgment was given in Panchkula town, adjoining Chandigarh. Outside, tens of thousands of his supporters were massed along with thousands of security personnel.
The Punjab and Haryana High court on Friday gives strong instruction to state government that do not hesitate to use force if you required ahead of court verdict in a rape case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
In its resumed hearing here, a bench of Justices S.S. Saron, Surya Kant and Avneesh Jhingan also categorically told the Haryana government that politicians, including ministers, should not be allowed to visit Panchkula, where the CBI court is located.
“If the politicians interfere, they needed to be booked,” said the judges.
The High Court also directed the police to videograph any cases of arson, and arrest those responsible for that.
Expressing gratitude to the media for highlighting the exact situation, the judges said they had information that some followers of the Dera chief might resort to self-immolation in case the verdict goes against the sect leader.
“Suicide is not without instigation, and instigation itself is an offence,” the bench said, adding they did not want to see police men being beaten up.
Earlier today, Dera chief Ram Rahim Singh left his sect headquarters and headed for the CBI court in Haryana’s Panchkula town accompanied by scores of cars full of his supporters.
The sect chief has been directed to appear personally in the court in a case pertaining to alleged rape and sexual exploitation of a former female disciple.
The Central Bureau of Investigation court, 15 km from here, will give its verdict on Friday afternoon.
There was speculation earlier that the Dera chief would fly by helicopter from his Sirsa headquarters for the verdict.
He is likely to reach Panchkula in about four hours (260 km distance) by road. Singh enjoys Z-plus security cover from the Haryana Police.
Tension has prevailed in Haryana and Punjab in the past 72 hours in the build up to the verdict against the sect chief with thousands of his followers gathering in Panchkula, Sirsa and other places.
Central para-military forces and Haryana Police tried to evict the Dera Sacha Sauda supporters gathered in thousands at various places in Panchkula, through the intervening night of Thursday and Friday.
Haryana Director General of Police (DGP) B.S. Sandhu said that 20 columns of the Army have been requisitioned. They have staged a flag march on Friday morning.
Nearly two lakh sect followers have already descended on Panchkula and its nearby places from across the two states and its neighbouring areas.
Taking precautionary measures to discourage more followers from reaching Panchkula, Haryana Roadways has stopped plying buses bound for Chandigarh and Panchkula.
Official sources said no public or private bus or any transport vehicle is allowed beyond Ambala city, 45 km from Chandigarh.
On Thursday, Dera chief Ram Rahim, accused of raping two women at his ashram in Sirsa 15 years ago, appealed to his followers to maintain law and order. But whether his message reached all of his followers is uncertain since mobile Internet has been shut down in both Haryana and Punjab.
A Central Bureau of Investigation court in Panchkula adjoining Chandigarh will pronounce its verdict in the rape case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on Friday. The court has asked the sect chief to appear in the court.