Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has been convicted in a rape case slapped against him by a CBI court in Panchkula.
“CBI court in Panchkula convicts Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case,” confirmed CBI counsel HPS Verma after the court verdict.
The quantum of sentence will be announced on August 28.
Earlier in the day, the Dera chief reached the court with a massive entourage as thousands of followers rallied behind him to the court.
The followers continued to congregate and rally even after their leader had appealed to them to go home. The Dera chief made the appeal only after a direction from the High Court.
Security has been stepped up across Punjab and Haryana. Indefinite curfew has been imposed in several areas and the Army was deployed along with the paramilitary forces ahead of the verdict.
Passenger trains coming in to Chandigarh have been stopped and mobile internet services across Punjab and Haryana, barring Faridabad and Gurugram, have been suspended for 72 hours.
“Mobile Internet and data services have been suspended for 72 hours in Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh with immediate effect,” Haryana Additional Chief Secretary (Home) said on Thursday.
More than 15,000 paramilitary personnel have been deployed in the two states to assist the police forces in maintaining law and order.
The police forces of Punjab and Haryana have been on high alert for the past two days.
The central government assured all possible help to the two state governments to deal with the situation, and keep the law and order intact.
Security forces have been conducting flag marches in several places including Panchkula, Sirsa, Hissar and Bhathinda as a precautionary measure.
The police forces are keeping a close watch on social media, particularly WhatsApp groups, Facebook and Twitter, and have asked people not to spread rumours.
The special court in Panchkula was hearing the case against Singh for the last few years. The case against Dera chief was registered in 2012 on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court after anonymous letters were circulated about the alleged sexual exploitation of two ‘sadhvis’ (female followers) by the Dera chief.
While the alleged incident occurred in 1999, the FIR was lodged in 2002. The investigation in the case was carried out by the CBI.
The Dera chief has refuted all charges leveled against him.
(With inputs from PTI)