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Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

An Indian spiritual leader has been convicted of rape by a court in the northern city of Panchkula, raising fears of unrest after tens of thousands of his followers descended on the city, the Guardian Post reports.

In order to arrest the situation, ‘the Indian army has been on standby in Punjab and Haryana, surveillance drones are circling, and schools and roads have been shut in Panchkula for fears that supporters of Ram Rahim Singh may turn violent,’ to counter the outcome of the charge.

According to the court, ‘Singh, a flamboyant “godman” nicknamed the “guru of bling”, will be sentenced on Monday.’ The Guardian Post reports that Ram Rahim is ‘considered one of the most powerful men in India, running the 69-year-old sect from its ashram headquarters on a sprawling 1,000-acre Haryana property that boasts its own hotel, cinema, cricket stadium and schools.

This rape charge, from stories gathered around, was instigated by India’s Elite Central Bureau of Investigation. It was claimed that Singh assaulted two former female members of his sect. The Guardian in the report however established that Singh denies the charge, recalling that the guru is in another separate charge for murder of a journalist.

“The rape allegations, which Singh denies, first surfaced in an anonymous letter sent to the Indian prime minister in 2002. Scrutiny of the ashram grew when a journalist investigating Dera Sacha Sauda was shot dead the same year.

“The CBI alleges Singh was involved in murdering the journalist after suspecting he was responsible for helping to circulate the anonymous letter. He is facing a separate, ongoing trial in that case and denies the charges.”

To this end, in ensuring safety, the Guardian Post report that ‘about 7,000 police officers were stationed in Panchkula ahead of the verdict, and mobile internet services were suspended.’ More so, ‘hundreds of hospital beds have been reserved for possible casualties while, in the nearby city of Chandigarh, a cricket stadium has been prepared as a temporary jail,’ for the exercise.

 

 

 

 

Correspondent: Ridwan A Olayiwola

 

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