CBI judge reaches Rohtak, proceedings to sentence Dera chief Ram Rahim begin

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh verdict aftermath: 926 arrested, police alert ahead of sentencing, says Haryana DGP

Dera chief convicted of rape Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh attempted to prolong the trial against him on trivial grounds and even invited the fury of the High Court, according to a report by The Indian Express.

Ironically, while this sterilisation drive was enforced by the moral police at the ashrams, the chief of the sect presumably indulged his carnal desires, as the stories of several women being raped would attest.

"Our father can never do any sin", he told AFP. There was also drama outside the makeshift court facility as Ram Rahim sought urgent medical assistance.

Arguments began at the Sunaria jail around 2:30 pm where the prosecution demanded maximum punishment for Ram Rahim.

"We have made multi-layered arrangements so that nobody is able to reach the venue (prison) or enter Rohtak district itself", police deputy inspector general Navdeep Singh Virk told Indian broadcaster NDTV.

Singh, known as the "guru of bling" on account of his flamboyant lifestyle, commands a vast and loyal support base throughout the region, and while no new clashes were reported over the weekend, security remains tight, with internet and SMS services shut down in parts of both Punjab and Haryana states until Tuesday. The then prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had received an anonymous letter from a Dera Sadhvi that she was being raped by Ram Rahim.

CBI filed the charge sheet against the Dera head in Ambala court in July 2007, about five years after the registration of the rape case. Singh still faces a conspiracy charge for alleged involvement, which he denies. The court said it would announce the final judgment on Monday (Today).

Some Haryana Police officers and paramilitary force personnel inside the court complex in Sector 1 of Panchkula immediately sensed the situation and took the disgraced sect chief into custody after a scuffle with his security personnel who numbered seven to eight.

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A curfew was also in place in Sirsa town, where the sprawling main headquarters of the guru's Dera Sacha Sauda sect are located.

In a monthly radio address on Sunday, Modi said it was "natural to be worried" after the violence, that briefly broke out in Delhi.

"Violence is not acceptable in the nation, in any form", he said.

Over a lakh of Ram Rahim's followers had gathered in Panchkula, where he was convicted on Friday, and they erupted in violence that left 38 people dead and over 200 injured.

Followers of the self-styled "godman" continue to insist upon his innocence.

India has been rocked by numerous scandals involving popular ascetics claiming to possess mystical powers, and Singh is no stranger to controversy.

Singh's sect describes itself as a social welfare and spiritual organisation but he is no stranger to controversy. He is also being investigated for allegedly castrating hundreds of his followers.

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