A multi-layer security cordon has been thrown around the Rohtak district jail and security has been beefed up to prevent any untoward incident across Haryana, Punjab and other affected areas ahead of the final verdict today.
After the initial verdict came out on Friday, Dera followers or ‘premis’ indulged in widespread violence and arson with the state administration subsequently imposing curfew in many parts of Haryana and Punjab to control the rioting mob.
Here are the latest updates and developments on the CBI special court’s final verdict against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh:
■ The victims revered Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on the pedestal of God but he committed breach of the gravest nature, a special court today said while refusing any leniency as it sentenced him to 20 years in jail for raping two of his “gullible and blind followers". The court awarded 10 years of sentence each for the rape of two women by making it clear that both the punishment will run consequently against the chief of Dera Sacha Sauda. While observing that a man who has neither any concern for humanity nor has any mercy in his nature does not deserve leniency, the CBI court said such criminal act by one who is stated to be heading a religious organisation is bound to shatter images of pious and sacred spiritual social cultural and religious institutions existing in the country since time immemorial. The court also imposed a fine of ₹ 15 lakh each against the Dera chief in both the cases and said that both the victims would get ₹ 14 lakh each as compensation. (PTI)
■ The curfew in Sirsa will be relaxed tomorrow from 7 am to 7 pm, schools, colleges to be open, said special commissioner V Umashankar. (PTI )
■ Army personnel staged flag march and police and paramilitary personnel patrolled the streets in Sirsa, the headquarters of Dera Sacha Sauda, to maintain law and order after the sentencing of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. No untoward incident was reported in Sirsa after the pronouncement of the sentence against the Dera Sacha Sauda, who has been convicted in a rape case, said a senior Haryana government official. “There was no report of any untoward incident and I hope that peace will be maintained," IAS officer V Umashankar said. (PTI)
■ Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar appealed to the people, especially the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda, to respect the court sentence against Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and help in maintaining peace in the state. Strict action would be taken against any person who attempts to disturb the law-and-order situation which was reviewed at a high-level meeting held here during the day, he added. The court has sentenced the Dera chief to imprisonment of 10 years each in two rape cases, and imposed a fine of ₹ 15 lakh in each case.
■ The Congress on Monday said the violence by supporters of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in Haryana last week was “state sponsored". (PTI)
■ Army personnel staged a flag march and police and paramilitary personnel patrolled the streets in Sirsa, the headquarters of Dera Sacha Sauda, to maintain law and order after the sentencing of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. No untoward incident was reported in Sirsa after the pronouncement of the sentence against Ram Rahim Singh, who has been convicted in a rape case, said a senior Haryana government official. “There was no report of any untoward incident and I hope that peace will be maintained," IAS officer V. Umashankar said. (PTI)
■ Miscreants who instigated violence and arson in Sirsa following the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh will be identified and brought to book, a senior Haryana government official said on Monday. He also asserted that Sirsa did not witness any untoward incident today after the quantum of sentence in two rape cases against the self-styled godman was pronounced. (PTI)
■ No untoward incident was reported from Sirsa after the pronouncement of the quantum of sentence of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who has been convicted in a rape case, a senior Haryana government official said today. Speaking to reporters here, IAS officer V. Umashankar also said that the district authorities had ordered attachment of the Sirsa-based Dera’s accounts and compensation to those affected in the violence could be given from these. (PTI)
■ Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has ordered strict enforcement of the Punjab Prevention of Damage to Public and Private Property Act in the wake of violence in the aftermath of the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case. The Act, which was notified in June, makes any act of lawlessness, arson or rioting leading to damage to property a non-bailable offence, an official spokesperson said. (PTI)
■ The special CBI court has sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 20 years in prison for raping two women in 2002 after his conviction in the case that triggered violence leaving 38 dead and scores injured in Haryana. CBI judge Jagdeep Singh, who holds the court in Panchkula, near Chandigarh, pronounced the sentence in a special courtroom set up inside the Sunaria jail where Ram Rahim Singh is lodged since last Friday after he was convicted. (PTI)
■ Both 10-year sentences in the rape cases against Ram Rahim Singh will run consecutively for a total of 20 years jail, says CBI spokesperson.
■ The special CBI court has fined Ram Rahim Singh Rs15 lakh in each rape case, says the defence lawyer. (PTI)
■ CBI court jails Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for 10 years in the second rape case, says the defence lawyer. This term will run non concurrent with the 10-year jail term announced earlier. (PTI)
■ No untoward incident was reported from Sirsa after the pronouncement of the quantum of sentence of Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who has been convicted in a rape case, a senior Haryana government official said today. Speaking to reporters here, IAS officer V Umashankar also said that the district authorities had ordered the attachment of the Sirsa-based Dera’s accounts and compensation to those affected in the violence earlier could be given from these. “There was no report of any untoward incident and I hope that peace will be maintained," Umashankar said. He said excluding the permanent residents of the area, many of whom were also Dera followers, the number of other supporters in the sect’s headquarters in Sirsa was not more than a thousand. (PTI)
■ Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar summoned an emergency meeting today of top officials of the state after Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, convicted in a 2002 rape case, was sentenced to 10 years in jail, a senior official said. Khattar also appealed to the people, especially Dera followers, to maintain peace, the official added. “The chief minister summoned an emergency meet of the chief secretary, home secretary, Haryana DGP and other senior officials to take stock of the situation after the CBI court awarded the jail term to the Dera chief," the official said. The conviction on Friday of the Dera head by a CBI court in Panchkula, Haryana, triggered violent protests by Dera followers. At least 38 people were killed and 260 injured in Haryana, mostly in Panchkula. (PTI)
■ A car was set on fire by unknown persons in the Kotli village near Sirsa today after Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced to ten years in prison for rape, the police said
■ The Dera chief pleaded for leniency in court, reports NDTV
■ Army conducts flag march in Haryana ‘s Sirsa after sentencing of Ram Rahim Singh in rape case against him. (ANI)
■ Medical examination of Dera chief Ram Rahim Singh is being done, after this he will be given a jail uniform and will be allotted a cell in jail. (ANI)
■ Punjab CM Amarinder Singh: There is total normalcy, our forces are on their toes. Will not let any untoward incident happen. This (sentence) must be accepted by the people and peace must prevail. (ANI)
■ A special CBI court today sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 10 years in prison after his conviction in a 2002 rape case that triggered violence leaving 38 dead and scores injured in Haryana.
CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh, who holds the court in Panchkula, near Chandigarh, pronounced the sentence in a special courtroom set up inside the Sunaria jail where Ram Rahim, the 50-year-old self-styled godman, is lodged since last Friday after he was convicted.
The judge was brought to Rohtak by a chopper from Chandigarh and landed in a helipad near the jail located on the outskirts of Rohtak.
The judge awarded the 10-year jail term after hearing arguments on the quantum of sentence by prosecution and defence lawyers.
The special courtroom within the jail was set up on the instructions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The high court had notified district jail at Sunaria as a place of sitting of CBI court of Additional District and Sessions Judge, Panchkula for the purpose of hearing on the quantum of sentence and pronouncement of the sentence. (PTI)
■ Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh holds security review meeting with DGP,Chief Secretary and other senior officials in Chandigarh as the sentencing hearing in Rohtak jail continues, ANI reports.
Meanwhile, NDTV reports at least 2 cars were set on fire in Sirsa.
■ Prosecution demands maximum punishment for rape convict Dera chief Ram Rahim Singh, but the defence argues that Singh is a social worker who has worked for welfare of people, so judge should take a lenient view, ANI reports.
■ Special CBI judge Jagdeep Singh has allotted 10 minutes to both sides to put forth their arguments. (ANI)
■ Arguments begin at Rohtak’s Sonaira jail for quantum of sentence in Ram Rahim Singh rape case. The prosecution demands maxium punishment for rape convict. (ANI)
■ Case against Dera chief: Chopper carrying Special CBI judge lands at Sunaria jail in Rohtak. (PTI)
■ Dera chief ‘s lawyer S.K. Narwana reaches makeshift court in Rohtak Jail ahead of quantum of sentence hearing, ANI reports.
■ A ‘youth brigade’ was formed several days ahead of the verdict in the rape case against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief to “trigger violence" in Punjab if the judgment goes against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, a senior Punjab Police official said today.
The plan to “indulge in arson and rioting" in Punjab was found during an investigation conducted by the Punjab Police.
Following the conviction of Ram Rahim, there were 28 incidents of arson, besides damage to state, central government offices or properties in seven districts of the Malwa region in Punjab.
“Almost 15 days ahead of the court verdict, a youth brigade which was to be called ‘A team’ was formed to trigger violence in Punjab if the court judgement goes against Dera Sacha Sauda chief. It was decided in a meeting," Sangrur SSP Mandeep Singh Sidhu told PTI today.
The police have also identified the main accused allegedly involved in arson and rioting in Sangrur. They have been identified as Duni Chand, Prithi Chand and Bittu, the SSP said adding that they were absconding.
As many as 12 incidents of violence were reported from Sangrur district only following the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda sect head, police said.
“We have arrested 23 persons including a woman in connection with arson and rioting," SSP said.
■ Sangrur Police assessed property damage of worth ₹ 23.72 lakh during violence in Sangrur district. The property damaged included power gird, telephone exchange and sewa Kendra, he said. Sangrur Police has also assessed an expenditure of ₹ 85.17 lakh for making security arrangements which included expenditure related to paramilitary forces and police force in the district.
“We shall submit the detail of expenditure to the state government in order to recover from the Dera," SSP said. (PTI)
■ Around a hundred “items", including lathis, were found buried under the ground at a congregation centre of Dera Sacha Sauda in Haryana’s Sonepat district during a police search operation.
The state police has launched a crackdown on the Dera’s congregation centres on suspicion that the followers of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh could be storing petrol, diesel and weapons there.
In an attempt to avert another mob mayhem, the police have taken a number of the dera followers into preventive detention.
“Several items, including lathis and sticks, were seized from the fields near Dera Sacha Sauda congregation centres in Bahalgarh," IG (Rohtak range) Navdeep Singh Virk told reporters outside the Sunaria jail.
“We have seized over a hundred items in Sonepat. We have made elaborate security arrangements and put some persons under preventive detention," Virk said.
Sonepat’s Additional SP D K Bhardwaj said the police seized lathis and other “items" from the Dera’s congregation centre at Bahalgarh during a search operation.
Lathis were found buried 2.5 feet under the ground. The police had to dug up the piece of land to take them out, he said.
Rohtak SP Pankaj Nain said a five-layer security ring has been thrown around the Sunaria jail in Rohtak and no incident of violence has been reported yet. The Army is on standby, he said. The hearing on the sentencing is likely to begin at 2.30pm inside the jail premises. (PTI)
■ Fearing violence after Gurmeet am Rahim Singh’s sentencing in a rape case today, a village close to the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters readied itself to face angry followers with a stockpile of stones, sticks, bricks and iron rods.
Villagers in Shahpur Beghu, 500 metres from the sprawling headquarters of the Dera, said they were “fully prepared" to face violent followers of the self-styled godman who was convicted of rape on 25 August. (PTI)
■ CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh is being flown to Rohtak. The sentence is expected to be handed out at around 2.30pm. (PTI)
■ A special court room has been made within the Sunaria jail, Rohtak Range IG, Navdeep Singh Virk said. “The judge will be flown in by a special helicopter and will land in the helipad near to the Sunaria jail (on the outskirts of Rohtak city)," Virk said. He said it will be ensured that no Dera follower is allowed to enter entire Rohtak district or to move near to the jail. (PTI)
■ The police have sealed ten “naam charcha ghars" (congregation centres) of the Dera in Rohtak police range. In all, 103 such centres have been searched across Haryana. A sedition case has been slapped against two close aides of the sect head after the violence in Panchkula on Friday. (PTI)
■ After the violent attacks on media crews allegedly by Dera supporters in Panchkula on Friday, the police have made special arrangements at Rohtak for them. Police said a designated place has been earmarked for them to allow them to cover the court proceedings today. (PTI)
■ Sirsa, the sect headquarters, meanwhile continues to be under curfew. Police have registered 52 cases in connection with the violence which left a trail of destruction, particularly in Panchkula and Sirsa in Haryana, and arrested 926 people. (PTI)
■ There have been no reports of violence from anywhere in Haryana and Punjab since Saturday. (PTI)
■ Train operations in Punjab and Haryana, severely affected by violence in two states, have been restored, except for the Delhi-Rohtak-Bathinda section, a railway ministry statement said in New Delhi. The security clearance for the section is awaited from state authorities, it said. (PTI)
■ Mobile Internet services will remain suspended in Haryana and Punjab till 11.30 am on Tuesday. (PTI)
■ Internet lease lines on the premises of the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters at Sirsa will also be suspended till then, officials said. (PTI)
■ At many sensitive places in Punjab too, security forces conducted flag marches and kept a tight vigil in sensitive areas. Punjab was maintaining a vigil in sensitive districts falling in the Malwa region including Bathinda, Sangrur, Moga and Patiala, where there is sizeable presence of Dera followers. (PTI)
■ Authorities in Punjab and Haryana have started identifying movable and immovable assets of the cult on the directions of the high court, officials said.
Banks have been asked to provide details of accounts of the dera. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the two states to submit by Tuesday a list of dera’s properties and assets which can be attached in case it is found that they were responsible for property damage after Singh’s conviction. (PTI)
■ The Centre today said the situation in Haryana, which is braced for the sentencing of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, is tense but under control with the Army conducting flag march in sensitive areas.
Officials said security has been tightened across Haryana while the Delhi Police is in full alert to foil any attempt by anyone to disturb peace.
“As per report of the DGP control Room, Haryana, the situation is tense but under control. Columns of Army are doing flag march continuously," a Home Ministry spokesperson said. (PTI)
■ As per the report, the total casualties due to the violence after the conviction of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief in a rape case is 35 (Panchkula-17, Sirsa-6 and Chandigarh-12) and a total 204 people were injured. (PTI)
■ ANI reports “#Punjab: Flag march being conducted by police and Rapid Action Force in Barnala ahead of rape convict Dera Chief #RamRahimSingh’s sentencing."
In New Delhi, a meeting is reportedly underway at North Block to discuss security situation in Punjab, Haryana ahead of Dera chief’s sentencing, it adds.
■ The CBI special court judge will be flown to pronounce the quantum of sentence against convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh today at around 11.30am.
■ Though the exodus of Dera followers from the sect’s headquarters in Sirsa started Saturday, several supporters of the self-styled godman are still present in and around the sprawling premises. Locals have been asked to stay indoors as a preventive measure.
“We have made appropriate arrangements to maintain law and order in the district," a senior police official said.
The district administration is also providing buses to facilitate the departure of Dera followers. (PTI)
■ In view of the prevailing tense situation, all schools, colleges and other educational institutions in Haryana will remain closed on Monday, a senior official said.
“All educational institutions, including government and private schools, colleges and other institutions in the entire state, will remain closed tomorrow," additional chief secretary (home) Ram Niwas said in an official release. (PTI)
■ ADGP (law and order) Mohd Akil, who on Sunday took stock of the situation in Rohtak, also warned potential troublemakers.
“Anyone who creates trouble will be taught a lesson, like in Panchkula and Sirsa," he told reporters in Rohtak. Step will be taken as per the needs of the situation to deal with troublemakers, Akil said. (PTI)
■ “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," Atul Kumar, the deputy commissioner of Rohtak told reporters on Sunday, where the Army has been kept on standby.
The DC’s stern warning comes in the wake of the mayhem in Panchkula on Friday where the Dera followers went on the rampage after their sect chief’s conviction in a rape case.
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The violence at Panchkula and sect headquarters at Sirsa has left 38 dead and over 250 injured.
“People do not have any reason to be afraid as stringent security measures have been taken," the DC said. The situation in the district was “completely under control", he said adding that police was fully prepared to tackle any situation. (PTI)
■ The Rohtak DC Atul Kumar also appealed to people to not enter the district without any specific or urgent reason. He said every person entering Rohtak was being checked.
If any person fails to produce proof of identity or specify reason for visiting the district during checking, then he would be taken into custody, the official said.
He also said that prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), prohibiting assembly of five or more persons, and carrying of firearms and other weapons, were already in place in the district. (PTI)