Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and four others were sentenced to life imprisonment by a special CBI court on Monday for the murder of sect manager Ranjit Singh in 2002.
Ram Rahim Singh, who was in 2017 sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for raping two disciples, is currently lodged in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail.
The Special Court in Haryana’s Panchkula had convicted him and four others – Krishan Lal, Jasbir Singh, Avtar Singh and Sabdil – in the murder case on October 8. “The court has given the life sentence to five,” CBI special prosecutor H P S Verma said after the hearing was held amid tight security.
The CBI had sought capital punishment for them.
Verma said the Dera chief was also fined Rs 31 lakh and half of the amount will go to the victim’s family as compensation.
Reacting to the verdict, Jagseer Singh, son of Ranjit Singh, said it was a big day for the family as they got justice after a long wait.
Jagseer, who was eight years old when his father was murdered, said he was satisfied with the verdict, though his family was seeking death sentence for Ram Rahim Singh.
The Dera chief, who enjoyed a large following, had frequently courted controversies and after his conviction in the rape case in 2017, violence had broken out in Panchkula and Sirsa leaving over 40 dead.
Police had tightened security in Panchkula and Sirsa, where the sect is headquartered, ahead of the hearing.
In Panchkula, prohibitory orders under Section 144 were clamped.
Former Dera manager Ranjit Singh, who was also a follower of the sect, was shot dead on July 10, 2002 at Khanpur Kolian village in Haryana’s Kurukshetra.
According to the CBI charge sheet, the Dera chief believed that Ranjit Singh was behind the circulation of an anonymous letter and hatched a conspiracy to kill him.
The letter narrated how women were allegedly being sexually exploited by the sect head at the Dera headquarters.
The five were convicted under relevant sections, including 302 (murder), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
Over two years back, the sect head was also awarded life imprisonment for the murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati.