Harayana jail minister KL Panwar defends convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim's parole, asks media not to link hearing with elections

Coming to the defence of convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Haryana jail minister on Tuesday told the media not to link the parole hearing of the self-styled godman to elections. "Do not link it with elections, if we had such an intention we would have released him before Lok Sabha elections," KL Panwar was quoted as saying by ANI.

 Harayana jail minister KL Panwar defends convict Gurmeet Ram Rahims parole, asks media not to link hearing with elections

File image of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Wikimedia Commons

The former head of Dera Sacha Sauda had sought parole for over a month ago for farming at his fields in Haryana's Sirsa, officials said. He is currently lodged at Sunaria jail in Rohtak after being convicted in two rape cases and murder of a journalist.

Panwar also said that the sect leader is following procedure. "He has applied for parole, which he is entitled to. There is a procedure involved. The Sirsa police will prepare its report and submit it to the deputy commissioner." Earlier, the jail superintendent of Rohtak district had praised Ram Rahim's conduct in the jail and said that he was not a "hardcore" criminal.

Two other Haryana ministers Krishna Pawar and Anil Vij also backed the parole request saying Gurmeet's behaviour in jail has been good and he is entitled to parole like any other prisoner, according to India Today.

State health minister Vij on Monday said that Ram Rahim or any other prisoner is entitled to seek parole if they meet the criteria as per law. "There is nothing wrong in giving parole even though he has been convicted," Vij added.

Following Ram Rahim's application for the parole for 42 days, the jail superintendent had written to the Sirsa district administration in a letter dated 18 June, seeking a report on whether releasing Ram Rahim on parole would be feasible or not.

The Sirsa Police is yet to give its report to the deputy commissioner on the parole application, with a senior police official on Monday saying it will be prepared to keep in view merits and demerits of the plea.

Ram Rahim had sought parole for over a month for farming at his fields in Haryana's Sirsa, officials had said. However, a CNN-News18 report, citing sources from the Sirsa district administration, says that there is no farmland in the name of Ram Rahim in Sirsa.

Sirsa's Superintendent of Police Arun Singh on Monday said that they have not yet given their report to the Sirsa deputy commissioner as various formalities have to be completed before doing so.

"The report will be prepared to take into account the merits and demerits of the parole if granted. On a routine basis, we prepare reports on parole applications based on merits and demerits of each case," he told PTI.

In August 2017, the Dera chief was sentenced to 20 years in jail for raping two women and a special CBI court in Panchkula had in January this year also sentenced him and three others to life imprisonment for the murder of a journalist over 16 years ago.

Last month Gurmeet was denied an interim bail by the Punjab and Haryana High court. He sought bail to attend the marriage of his foster daughter. While a prisoner is granted parole after completing two years in prison, Gurmeet had moved his parole application much in advance reported India Today.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jun 25, 2019 13:49:40 IST