Self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was on Monday sentenced to 10 years in jail in a rape case. The court slapped a fine of Rs 65,000 on the Dera Sacha Sauda chief.
Authorities are on high alert in Punjab and Haryana, as his followers went on the rampage that left 38 dead after his conviction of Friday. Ahead of the Monday’s court proceedings, the two states ordered schools and colleges shut, suspended mobile services, stepped up security and threw a five-tier cordon around a Rohtak jail, where a judge handed out punishment to the Dera chief for raping two disciples 15 years ago.
Watch this space for live updates as tension grips Haryana and Punjab.
3:45pm: This (sentence) must be accepted by the people and peace must prevail, ANI quotes Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh as saying. “There is total normalcy, our forces are on their toes. Will not let any untoward incident happen.”
3:40pm: Meanwhile, Dera chairperson Vipassana Insaan appealed for peace amid reports that two vehicles have been set on fire in Sirsa, the headquarters of the sect.
The 50-year-old Dera Sacha Sauda leader was on Friday found guilty in the 15-year-old case. Within minutes of the verdict, his followers ran riot and clashed with security forces, leaving 38 people dead and 250 injured. While 32 people were killed in Panchkula, where the case was heard, six died in Sirsa, the headquarters of the sect.
3:34pm: The medical examination of Ram Rahim Singh is being done. After this, he will be given a jail uniform and will be allotted a cell in jail. Three ambulances are seen entering the jail premises.
3:27pm: Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh sentenced to 10 years in jail for rape.
3:23pm: Reports of arson from Sirsa’s Phulkan village, located within 1 km radius of Dera headquarters, say sources. Two vehicles reportedly set on fire by dera followers.
3:20pm: Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh holds security review meeting with DGP, chief secretary and other senior officials.
3:10pm: Quantum of sentence to be decided soon.
2: 50pm: Defence argues Ram Rahim is a “social worker” who has worked for welfare of people, so judge should take a lenient view.
2: 40pm: Prosecution demands maximum punishment for rape convict Ram Rahim
2: 36pm: Arguments begin at Rohtak’s Sonaria jail. Special CBI judge Jagdeep Singh has allotted 10 minutes each to both sides to put forth their arguments.
2:33pm: Quantum in Ram Rahim rape case expected soon.
2:16pm: Chopper of CBI judge Jagdeep Singh reaches Rohtak jail.
CBI judge Jagdeep Singh boards a government helicopter from near the Punjab and Haryana secretariat in Chandigarh on his way to Rohtak on Monday. (Ravi Kumar/HT)
2:13pm: Announcement of quantum of sentence in Ram Rahim rape case nears; uneasy calm in Rohtak
2:01pm: No gathering of dera supporters in Rohtak, says Mohd Akil, AGDP (law and order)
1:56pm: Gurmeet Ram Rahim‘s lawyer SK Narwana reaches makeshift court in Rohtak jail ahead of quantum of sentence hearing, reports news agency ANI.
1:50pm: A ‘youth brigade’ was formed days ahead of the verdict in the rape case to “trigger violence” in Punjab if the judgement goes against Ram Rahim, a senior Punjab Police official said on Monday.
1:17pm: High security across Rohtak, police patrolling on.
1:09pm: CBI judge Jagdeep Singh expected to arrive in Rohtak shortly.
12:55pm: Daughter accompanied Ram Rahim in a chopper. She stayed in jail for more than 2 hours after which jail the DG objected and she was taken away, alleges journalist S Mahajan.
12:46pm: A multi-layer security cordon manned by police and 23 companies of paramilitary forces has been thrown in and around Rohtak and also around the Sonaria Jail where Ram Rahim is lodged.
12:31pm: Security upped in and around Sonaria jail in Rohtak.
12:31pm: CBI special court judge is expected to leave from Panchkula court complex in another 10 minutes.
12:28pm: Authorities impose curfew in Patiala.
12:22pm: Multi-layer security cordon manned by police and 23 companies of paramilitary forces has been thrown in and around Rohtak and around the Sonaria jail.Army has been kept on standby.
12:10pm: Situation in Rohtak tense, no one being allowed to enter 3-km radius around Sonaria jail.
12:00 noon: Authorities are geared up to prevent a repeat of the mayhem on Friday following the sect chief’s conviction. The violence claimed 32 lives in Panchkula and six in Sirsa, besides leaving over 260 injured.
11:46am: Special CBI judge Jagdeep Singh leaves from Panchkula, is expected to reach Rohtak in 40 min. Court proceedings at Sonaria jail to begin at 2:30.
11:45am: Railway stations in Haryana’s Karnal deserted ahead of sentencing in the Ram Rahim rape case
11:31am: High-level meeting on the situation in Punjab and Haryana at North Block ends. Officials have been directed to continuously and closely monitor the situation.
11:20am: The quantum of sentence in the Gurmeet Ram Rahim rape case will be announced around 2:30 pm in Rohtak today. The self-styled godman was held guilty of rape on August 25.
11:11am: Army on standby in Rohtak.
11:02am: Family from Haryana’s Kaithal alleges one of them hasn’t returned home 3 years after going to Mumbai on a Dera Sacha Sauda cleanliness drive.
11:01am: Police, RAF hold flag march in Barnala
10:57am: Meeting underway at North Block to discuss security situation in Punjab, Haryana ahead of Ram Rahim Singh’s sentencing
10:50am: Home ministry says the situation in Haryana, three days after the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was still tense but under control.
10:36am: Objectionable items were kept hidden in fields, interrogation underway: Rohtak IG Navdeep Singh Virk.
10:34 am: Have recovered 100 objectionable items such as batons from Sonepat’s Bahalgarh Dera, says Rohtak IG Navdeep Singh Virk.
10:33 am: Tight vigil across Haryana and Punjab
10: 13 am:CBI judge Jagmeet Singh reaches Panchkula court complex, will be flow to Rohtak soon.
10:08 am: Ahead of the Ram Rahim sentence, barricades back in Panchkula, police begin frisking of vehicles resulting in traffic snarls along highway in Panchkula
10:04 am: My men will use arms if needed, Rohtak IG.
9:55 am: If any unidentified person tries to go near high security area at the Sunaria jail complex, ‘shoot at sight’ can be implemented, IGP Rohtak Range says.
9:52 am: According to ANI, 23 dera followers have been arrested in Punjab’s Sangrur till now.
9:42 am: High alert in Meerut, along Uttar Pradesh border
9:38 am: Hang Ram Rahim, sadhus in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi demand.
9:24 am: Schools, colleges in Haryana, parts of Punjab to remain shut today.
9:15 am: Security tightened in Punjab
8:15am: Back in Delhi, an official said there were no Metro rail diversions or restrictions. “...these are just rumors to propagate false stories,” ANI quoted Delhi Police PRO Madhur Verma saying.
“Delhi Police have made proper arrangements and deployment. Additional forces have been mobilised.”
The deployment of undercover policemen to guard sensitive locations across the national capital is among a slew of measures devised at a high-level police meeting to protect the city on Monday. Miscreants had set on fire two train coaches at Anand Vihar railway terminal, torched a few buses in parts of west and east Delhi and pelted stones at least in 12 locations across the city after Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s conviction.
8:13am: Security checks are being conducted in Haryana’s Panchkula, where 32 deaths were reported after the violence.
8:01am: A woman seeking an audience with Ram Rahim arrested from Sunaria Outer bypass on Sunday night. She has been sent to Jhajjar jail, reports ANI.
7:55am: Security stepped up outside Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s residence, reports ANI. Khattar faced criticism for failing to prevent Friday’s violence. The Punjab and Haryana high court took both Khattar and PM Narendra Modi to task over the Dera violence. Modi said Sunday that violence in any form will not be tolerated in India.
7:40am: We have ensured no Dera follower is allowed to enter the entire Rohtak district or move around jail: Navdeep Singh Virk, IGP Rohtak Range
Tough talk and assurance
Ahead of the sentencing, the deputy commissioner of Rohtak has said that those creating trouble should expect bullets if they defy warnings.
“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 told reporters in Rohtak, where the army has been kept on standby.
Kumar also said people do not have any reason to be afraid as stringent security measures have been taken and the situation in the district was “completely under control”.
Lockdown and high alert
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court judge Jagdeep Singh, who had on Friday held the Dera chief guilty of rape and criminal intimidation of two female disciples in 2002, will be flown to Rohtak for announcing the sentence.
The district jail premises, about 10 km from Rohtak town, has been completely cordoned off by security forces, including para-military forces and Haryana Police. The Army has been kept on stand-by.
No movement of people, other than those authorised, will be allowed within a distance of 10km from the prison premises.
“We are fully prepared for any situation. The army has been kept on stand-by,” Haryana director general of police (DGP) BS Sandhu said.
Rohtak range Inspector General (IG) Navdeep Singh Virk said that 28 companies of para-military forces, along with Haryana Police, have been deployed in Rohtak.
Security forces were on high alert again on Monday in Haryana and Punjab as both states braced for the sentencing.
Curfew was reimposed in Haryana’s Sirsa town, where the sect’s headquarters are located, on Sunday. The curfew will continue on Monday.
The sect has lakhs of followers mainly in Punjab and Haryana.
(With agency inputs)