A special CBI court in Panchkula on Thursday sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim and three others to life imprisonment for the murder of a journalist more than 16 years ago in Haryana.
The sentencing was delivered via video conferencing. The court has also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on each, reports news agency ANI.
Security had been stepped up in parts of Haryana and Punjab ahead of the sentencing. Strict vigil was being kept near the court complex in Sector 1 of Panchkula, adjoining Chandigarh.
Security measures were also ensured in Haryana’s Sirsa town, around 260 km from here, where the sect’s headquarter is located. Most shops remained shut around the headquarters of Dera Sacha Sauda
Speaking to ANI, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Kamaldeep Goel said: “We have imposed Section 144 across the city. The CBI Special court is in Sector 1. We have also restricted the vehicular movement on all four roads connecting to the court premises.”
Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) prohibits assembly of five or more persons, holding of public meetings, and carrying weapons.
“Today no one is being allowed to park his vehicle inside the court. Each and every person, entering the court will be frisked. Moreover, we have deployed scores of security personnel near the borders. All the vehicles are being thoroughly checked before entering Panchkula,” said Goel.
Ram Rahim, the main accused, Kuldeep Singh, Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal were convicted by the special Central Bureau of Investigation court last Friday for the murder of Ramchandra Chhatrapati in 2002. Ram Rahim appeared through video conferencing for the hearing.
The 51-year-old Dera head is already serving a 20-year prison term in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail for raping two of his women followers.
The Haryana government had filed a plea on Tuesday seeking that the Dera chief should be allowed to appear through video conferencing during the pronouncement of the quantum of the sentence as his movement could lead to law and order situation. The court accepted the petition on Wednesday.