Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was revered “on the pedestal of God” but he committed breach of the gravest nature, a special court said on Monday while sentencing the self-styled spiritual guru to 20 years in jail for raping two of his “gullible and blind followers”.
Rejecting leniency for the weeping and wailing Ram Rahim in court, judge Jagdeep Singh announced 10 years in jail for each rape, running consecutively.
“A man who has neither any concern for humanity nor has any mercy in his nature does not deserve leniency,” the court said of the 50-year-old chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, known for his flashy clothes, extravagant lifestyle and outlandish films.
“He acted like a wild beast… Such a 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,” said the judge. He said it reflects “irreparable damages caused by the acts of the convict to the heritage of this ancient land.”
The judge referred to “acts of the convict in sexually exploiting his own female disciples and intimidating them of dire consequences”.
The Dera chief has been fined Rs. 15 lakh in each case, of which 14 lakh each will be given to the women he raped.
Ram Rahim was convicted on Friday for raping the two disciples in 2002. Yesterday, the judge flew by government helicopter for a special hearing at a prison in Haryana’s Rohtak. The Dera chief sat on the floor and wept, screaming, “Please forgive me… I am innocent.”
He had to be led out of the court by commandos. He couldn’t stop weeping as he was taken for his medical tests, given prison wear and lodged in a cell.
Ahead of the sentencing, thousands of soldiers enforced a lockdown in Rohtak and other parts of Haryana and Punjab, where Ram Rahim has a mass following. Police say 38 people were killed after Dera followers went on the rampage after his conviction.
During the arguments, the CBI, which investigated the Baba, said he had sexually assaulted a “victim who used to treat him as a father and used to worship him”.