Jailed godman Ram Rahim found guilty of murder

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh | File Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh | File

Self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim and three others have been convicted in the murder case of journalist Ram Chander Chhatarpati. A special CBI court in Panchkula found the godman guilty of the crime on Friday.

The sentence against the Dera chief will be pronounced on January 17, CBI counsel said.

Earlier, security was beefed up in Haryana and part of Punjab ahead of the CBI court's verdict on Friday.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made in Haryana especially in Panchkula, Sirsa (headquarters of Dera) and Rohtak districts with several companies of the state armed police, anti-riot police and commando forces being deployed to deal with any law and order situation.

Security had been enhanced outside the Panchkula court complex, with Haryana police putting up barricades on roads leading to the court, said a police official, adding district police chiefs have been directed not to allow any unnecessary gathering and maintain extra vigil.

Additional police forces have also been deployed near the headquarters of Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa in Haryana, police said.

Violence had erupted in Panchkula and Sirsa in Haryana in August 2017 following the conviction of Ram Rahim Singh, leaving over 40 persons dead and scores of people injured.

The 51-year-old sect head is currently serving a 20-year prison term in Rohtak's Sunaria jail for raping two of his women followers.

In Punjab, where there are sizeable numbers of Dera followers, elaborate security arrangements have been made in Bathinda and Ferozepur ranges.

On Tuesday, the special CBI court in Panchkula had accepted the state's plea and allowed presence of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh through video conferencing for the January 11 hearing.

He had been named as the main conspirator in the case, which dates back to 2002. Chhatarpati was shot at in October 2002 after his newspaper, Poora Sach, published an anonymous letter narrating how women were being sexually exploited by Gurmeet Ram Rahim at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa.

The journalist later succumbed to injuries and a case was registered in 2003. The case was handed over to the CBI in 2006.