Self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced on Monday to 10 years in jail for rape, days after his conviction triggered clashes between his followers and the police, killing at least 38 people.
Tens of thousands of Singh’s supporters set fire to cars and vandalised property in Haryana on Friday, minutes after he was found guilty of raping two of his followers. Hours before Singh was sentenced in Rohtak, mobile internet was cut off, roads barricaded and armed soldiers manned checkpoints.
A judge was flown in a helicopter to sentence the 50-year-old spiritual leader known as the “guru in bling” for his penchant for bejewelled costumes. Singh, who claims to have more than 50 million followers worldwide, could face a minimum seven years in prison for raping two of his female devotees.
The rape case was brought against him after an anonymous letter was sent to then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002 accusing Singh of repeatedly raping the sender and several other women in the Dera Sacha Sauda sect.