Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has been given life sentence for the murder of Haryana-based journalist Ram Chandra Chatrapati in 2002. The Panchkula Court in Chandigarh announced the quantum of punishment on Thursday, handing out a 20-year jail term for the godman.
Singh, who has been charged under Section 302 (murder) and Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), is already serving 20 years in prison after being convicted in two rape cases. He is locked up in Rohtak's Sunaria jail for raping two of his women followers.
Elaborate security arrangements were made in Panchkula and Sirsa — headquarters of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect headed by Singh — and other parts of Haryana to maintain law and order situation. Singh appeared in the court during the sentencing through video conference.
On 11 January, Special CBI Court judge Jagdeep Singh had convicted Ram Rahim and three others in the 2002 journalist murder case. He is the same judge who had pronounced the sentence during Singh's rape case trial.
Two of the other three other accused in the case — Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal — were also convicted under the Arms Act. The family of the slain journalist had demanded capital punishment for the guilty.
The journalist was shot dead outside his house in October 2002 in Haryana's Sirsa after his newspaper published a letter alleging sexual exploitation of women by Ram Rahim. Ram Rahim was named as the main conspirator in the case.
Anshul Chhatrapathi Verma, son of Ramchandra Chhatrapati said: "This is the triumph of truth, I feel relieved today. The prosecution had demanded capital punishment but we are satisfied with the punishment."An eye-witness in the case, Khatta Singh who was also present during the pronouncement of sentence told ANI: "I am very thankful to all investigative officials, the CBI team and the court for giving justice."
Recalling the reaction of Ram Rahim during pronouncement of today's verdict Khatta Singh said, "Ram Rahim was asked about his family and dependents and he said that he has a mother and three daughters. He made no mentions of his wife or anyone else."
Chhatrapati's family, that was forced to shut down the newspaper he ran — Poora Sach — had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2003, seeking the transfer of the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The investigation was later handed over to the CBI that filed the charges in July 2007.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Jan 17, 2019 22:26:41 IST