Rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim gets 20 years in jail

He has been sentenced to 20 years in prison as he was announced guilty of raping two women in a 2002 case.

Ram Rahim Singh's followers turned violent and 38 people were killed after his conviction on Friday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Sunday it was "natural to be worried" as the violence even briefly reached the capital New Delhi.

The judge pronounced two sentences of 10 years rigorous imprisonment in each of the two rapes that date back to 2002, defence lawyer S K Garg Narwana told reporters.

Justice Surya Kant while pointing out to deadly weapons, iron rods, petrol bombs, sticks etc seized in the aftermath of the Panchkula violence questioned the Haryana AG as to how the state presumed that all of those who had came to Panchuka were there for a "peaceful gathering". The rape charges were investigated by India's Central Bureau of Investigation, and a special CBI court convicted and sentenced the guru.

In January 2005, Anshul had filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking a CBI inquiry in the case of killing of his father.

Singh faces a minimum of seven years in prison.

Dera Sacha Sauda, which describes itself as a "selfless socio-spiritual organization", has ashrams across 10 states and union territories across India and claims to have millions followers worldwide.

He is the star of five films and numerous popular music videos, including the "Messenger of God", in which he acts as the hero who saves the nation.

Ahead of Monday's hearing in Rohtak, all the districts of Punjab and Haryana were put on high alert, with thirteen districts in Punjab's Malwa region under complete shut down as a precautionary measure.

In the small town of Sirsa, located 150 miles away from Panchula, thousands of devotees have gathered at the group's headquarters.

Local police spokesman Surjeet Singh said some people were still inside the compound, but that it was impossible to know how many.

"We're here because the police couldn't control the situation", said an army officer who asked not to be identified.

His followers went on the rampage when he was convicted, attacking rail stations, buses and vans used by TV broadcasters.

The sect campaigns for vegetarianism and against drug addiction.

One of the rules of the Dera Sacha Sauda is to reject any criticism of Singh. Many maintain private militias for their protection. They turned to his sect for basics like food, medicine and a sense of equality, and their guru's conviction was an unimaginable fall from grace.

  • Santos West