IT TOOK all of 20 minutes for Special CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh to pronounce the verdict in the rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Ram Rahim arrived at the court complex around 2.20 pm in a long convoy of vehicles that zoomed past the barricaded roads of Panchkula at high speed.
Avoiding the main entrance, where journalists and Dera followers were massed at the barricades, the convoy took a rear route to the Sector-1 District Court Complex. While there more than 100 cars in his convoy, only Ram Rahim’s vehicle and the accompanying security vehicles were allowed to enter the complex. By 2.40 pm, it was over.
The judge said: “The court has come to the conclusion that the prosecution has been able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, the accused is held guilty under Sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of Indian Penal Code.” The quantum of punishment will be pronounced on Monday.
Unlike his usual images in flamboyant clothes, the “guru of bling” was on Friday dressed simply – in a white kurta-pajama. He had come to the court with a woman, who said her relationship with him was that of a daughter. She told the judge that she was there to look after him, as Ram Rahim was suffering from back pain.
There were three CBI counsels, two officials and five lawyers of Ram Rahim in the courtroom when the Dera chief entered. Ten Army vehicles flying red flags also entered the court complex from the main entrance, apparently to secure the complex further.
As soon as he stepped into the courtroom, the judge appreciated the fact that Ram Rahim had presented himself before the court. The judge also told him not to create lawlessness. Ram Rahim did not utter a single word in response.
The judge then said his judgment was ready, and pronounced the orders. Immediately after the orders were pronounced, sources said, Ram Rahim did not understand that he had been convicted. His counsel informed him.
The police were called immediately and Ram Rahim was taken into custody in the court by an IG-level officer. His medical examination was conducted in the court by a civil surgeon and a team of Army doctors.
Ram Rahim was then taken away through the same rear entrance to the airbase at the nearby Western Command headquarters. From there, he was flown in a helicopter to Rohtak jail, where he is now lodged in the VIP guesthouse. CBI counsel H P S Verma told The Indian Express that statements of both victims, where they stood by their words, were crucial evidence in the case which led to his conviction.
How the case unfolded
2002: Two women disciples send anonymous letters to then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, alleging that they were raped by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
November 2003: Taking suo motu cognizance, HC orders CBI probe into allegation of rape of “sadhvis” by Ram Rahim.
2006: CBI records statements of victims, who show the spot where they were assaulted at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa.
2007: CBI presents challan in court.
2008: Charges framed against Ram Rahim.
2009-10: Two complainants record their statements before the court.
April 2011: Special CBI court shifts from Ambala to Panchkula; case against Ram Rahim transferred.
2014: CBI records statement of Ram Rahim.
2015: In his statements under CrPC, Ram Rahim claims he is impotent. CBI says at the time of incident he was 32, and had three children.
August 25, 2017: Verdict delivered.
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