Dera chief Ram Rahim's wife, mother return to Rajasthan home

30 August 2017, 01:39 | Robert Harris

Sight, sound of fear from 100 yards away

Ram Rahim

Dera Sacha Sauda sect head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was on Monday sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment by a CBI court for raping two of his disciples in 2002. Rahim's adopted-daughter Honeypreet Kaur was allowed to travel and stay with the self-styled godman in the makeshift jail for few hours.

Justice Surya Kant while pointing out to deadly weapons, iron rods, petrol bombs, sticks etc seized in the aftermath of the Panchkula violence questioned the Haryana AG as to how the state presumed that all of those who had came to Panchuka were there for a "peaceful gathering". It was suggested that Honeypreet, being an acupressure expert could supervise Gurmeet's medical treatment. It said the government let Panchkula burn for political gains. However, it is now alleged that all of them-over 200 in number-have gone missing.

The rape victims, despite threats and pressures all along, stood their ground on rape and sexual harassment allegations during almost 15-year-long hearing of the matter in court.

While many smaller ashrams owned by the Dera Sacha Sauda have been sealed by the administration and properties attached, the administration has so far not been able to take possession of the sect headquarters in Sirsa. The court has also directed the state government to investigate how hundreds of vehicles escorted Dera Chief to Court. It had run a vernacular newspaper too, sources said.

He has two daughters and a son with Harjit.

They have also identified 3,800 families, which are Dera followers, in the city.

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The case has also highlighted the Indian heartland's fascination with spiritual gurus, who enjoy enormous political clout for their ability to mobilise millions of followers frustrated by the shortcomings of the state.

"The followers are still inside the compound and they could be in the numbers of 10,000 and upwards though people are leaving the compound", Vijay Kumar, the Deputy Superintendent of Police in Sirsa, told CNN. Singh was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Monday.

Kumar added that a curfew and a ban on the gathering of five or more persons was still in place in Sirsa in the coming days. Lathis were found buried 2.5 feet under the ground.

To avoid a repeat of Friday's violence, sentencing was held in a court specially set up inside the district jail premises in Sunaria near Rohtak, where Ram Rahim was brought and lodged after his conviction.

The defence counsel sought leniency from the court arguing that Ram Rahim was active in social work and had health issues while the CBI counsel sought maximum punishment for the Dera chief.

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