Chandigarh: A CBI Special Court in Panchkula, Haryana, on Friday found Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty of raping two woman followers in 2002.
The court reserved its order for the quantum of punishment for August 28.
The verdict passed by Justice Jagdeep Singh, came amid a heightened tension with massive security forces, including the Army, being deployed ahead of the verdict to maintain peace in case of a sectarian frenzy.
The CBI had filed an FIR against the self-styled God man, accusing him of raping two ‘sadhvis’ (female followers), in 2002 and the case came to trial in 2008.
The CBI move came after the Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo moto action on the basis of a letter written by one of the alleged victims to the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Bajpayee.
On the last day of the hearing, the court had directed Gurmeet Ram Rahim to appear before it at 2.45 pm on Friday — when the verdict is likely to be announced.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim denied all charges against him.
The spiritual leader courted controversy several times in the past. In 2015, he was accused of encouraging 400 followers to undergo castration at his ashram so they could get closer to god.
He also stood trial for conspiracy over the murder of a journalist in 2002.
In 2007, he allegedly infuriated Sikhs by appearing to impersonate Guru Gobind Singh. In violence that followed, he was attacked by a mob; his sect later issued an apology.
Hundreds of thousands of followers of the controversial self-styled Godman, who is said to have sway over millions of people had started taking to the street and swarmed Sirsa, the headquarters of the sect, about 11 km from Chandigarh.
The Haryana government imposed an indefinite curfew in Sirsa as a precautionary measure and a 72-hour ban on mobile internet services, except voice calls.
As many as 72 trains have been cancelled in view of the law and order situation. The Centre has extended its support and provided security in both the states.
Twenty columns of army, 53 companies of paramilitary forces and 50,000 policemen have been deployed in what came as an unprecedented preventive measure.
–India Blooms News Service