Panchkula-based judge Jagdeep Singh, who held the self-styled godman guilty on Friday, was flown to Sunaria jail in Rohtak on Monday morning to read out the sentence to Ram Rahim in a makeshift prison created within the jail.
Special CBI judge Singh gave ten minutes each to the prosecution and the defence to argue their case on the sentence.
While the Central Bureau of Investigation demanded Ram Rahim be put away for ten years, defence lawyer S K Garg Narwana pleaded the judge take a lenient view since the Dera chief has “worked for the welfare of the people”.
After the sentencing, Ram Rahim was taken for a medical check-up, given a jail uniform and put in a cell.
Reports of sporadic violence trickled through even before the sentence was read out. Two cars were torched by Dera Sacha Sauda supporters in Phoolka area of Haryana’s Sirsa, the sect’s headquarters.
Chairperson of the Dera, Vipassana Insan, has appealed to followers to peacefully abide by the judgement.
Soon after the CBI judge sentenced Ram Rahim for rape, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh assured there was “total normalcy” in the state.
“Our forces are on their toes. Will not let any untoward incident happen,” he said. He also said that this sentence “must be accepted by the people and peace must prevail,” he said.
Haryana, Punjab and parts of Uttar Pradesh were under a thick security cover on Monday to prevent any repeat of the mayhem that followed the guilty verdict on Friday.
Thirty eight people have died so far in the violence perpetuated by followers of Ram Rahim’s sect, the Dera Sacha Sauda.
The fulcrum of security activity was Dera headquarters Sirsa and the Sunaria jail in Rohtak where the convicted felon Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was being kept.
At least 4,000 Army personnel guarded the jail – 10 kilometres from Rohtak city — in a three-tier security cover.
Curfew continued in Sirsa on Monday, as did the state-wide suspension of mobile Internet services. Internet services will be suspended in Haryana till 11.30 am on Tuesday.
Schools and colleges in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district were shut on Monday.
Thousands of supporters who had gathered at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa were also shooed out by the administration.
The rape against Ram Rahim has been dragging since April, 2002 when an anonymous letter written to the Punjab and Haryana chief justice complained of sexual exploitation of women followers at the Dera.
Journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati of Sirsa, who had exposed this exploitation, was shot dead at his residence on October 24, 2002. That case is up for its next hearing on September 16.
Acting on the letter, the High Court handed the matter to the CBI later that year after a district court indicated the possibility of sexual harassment.
The CBI registered a case of rape and criminal intimidation in December, 2002 and filed a chargesheet against Ram Rahim mid-2007 for the sexual exploitation of two sadhvis between 1991 and 2001.
A daily hearing was ordered by the special CBI court in July, 2017 followed by the guilty verdict on August 25, 2017.