Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh: Dera Sacha Sauda spiritual leader found guilty of raping female followers

Police and army on alert for unrest

Jon Sharman
Friday 25 August 2017 11:49
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Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh at a news conference to launch the score for his film 'MSG-2 The Messenger' in Mumbai
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh at a news conference to launch the score for his film 'MSG-2 The Messenger' in Mumbai

A popular Indian actor and spiritual leader, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, has been convicted of raping his followers following a high profile trial.

Singh was found guilty of raping two women in a case dating back to 2002 at the headquarters of his Dera Sacha Sauda group in the town of Sirsa.

The bearded guru, who had denied the charges, arrived for the hearing with a 100-vehicle convoy that left his ashram early on Friday.

The case was being tried in a special court run by India's top agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Some 15,000 police and soldiers were deployed in Panchkula, the town where his trial took place, for fear of violence.

Tens of thousands of his devotees had travelled there to protest his innocence, according to reports, while internet and phone services were throttled in a bid to forestall unrest.

In a televised appeal, Singh asked his supporters not to resort to violence, but some said they would not tolerate a verdict that went against their leader.

The BBC reported the guru had now been taken into protective custody by the army, and that he will be taken to a military base.

He will be sentenced on Monday.

Additional reporting by agencies

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