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Two rape victims move HC; seek life imprisonment for Dera chief

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Two women followers raped by the Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on Wednesday moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking life imprisonment for the sect head sentenced to 20 years in prison.

A special CBI court on August 28 had sentenced Ram Rahim Singh to 20 years in prison after his conviction in two rape cases.

“A revision petition has been filed today in the Punjab and Haryana High court for the enhancement of sentence for Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to life imprisonment in rape case,” said victims’ counsel Navkiran Singh.

“In this case, the Dera sect chief was considered as ‘Pita Ji’ (father) by his followers. Victims were under emotional and physical custody of Dera chief and he broke their trust and misused his position as a religious and spiritual leader. Therefore, we sought life imprisonment instead of 20-year sentence,” the counsel further said.

CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh had pronounced two sentences of 10 years rigorous imprisonment in each of the two cases that date back to 2002.

Besides, the court had also fined him Rs 15 lakh in each of the two cases.

Ram Rahim was convicted by the special CBI court on August 25, following which violence and arson had erupted in Panchkula and Sirsa districts, which left 41 people dead and scores of, injured.

Ram Rahim is currently lodged in Sunaria jail in Rohtak district of Haryana.

In April 2002, an anonymous letter was written to the then Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, complaining about alleged sexual exploitation of women followers at Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa

Then in May 2002, the high court directed Sirsa district and session judge to probe the allegations in the letter. In September 2002, the high court had handed over the matter to the CBI after district court indicated possibility of sexual exploitation

In December 2002, the CBI registered a case of rape, criminal intimidation against Ram Rahim Singh.

The CBI had filed charge sheet against Dera head in Ambala court in July 2007.

The charge sheet mentioned about sexual exploitation of two ‘sadhvis’ (women followers) between 1999 and 2001.

In September 2008, the special CBI court framed charges against Gurmeet Ram Rahim under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC

On August 17, 2017, the arguments of prosecution and defence concluded and the Special CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh on August 25 convicted Ram Rahim Singh in the rape case.

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