India guru convicted of rape sentenced to 10 years

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Aug. 28, 2017 at 10:37 AM
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Aug. 28 (UPI) -- An Indian court has sentenced Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, a guru whose rape conviction sparked deadly clashes last week, to 10 years in prison.

The special court of India's Central Bureau of Investigation delivered the sentence near New Delhi on Monday.

After sentencing, Singh was immediately escorted out of the room for a medical examination. He received a jail uniform and was allotted a cell in jail, the Times of India reported.

To avoid similar violence seen last week, in which at least 38 people died, the sentencing procedure was held within the premises of a district jail in Sunaria, near Rohtak, out the outskirts of New Delhi.

Prosecutors had called for a life sentence while Singh's defense team argued leniency should be shown. They characterized the controversial guru as a social worker.

Tens of thousands of followers of Singh, who calls himself Saint Dr. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan, gathered near a courthouse in Panchkula after a court ruling was handed down Friday. The members of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect rioted, burned vehicles and government offices, attacked journalists and fought an estimated 6,000 police officers in the city.

Singh, nicknamed the "guru in bling" for his lavish appearance, was convicted of rape and criminal intimidation of two female followers in a 15-year-old case. He denied the charges.

India has many gurus who say they have mystical powers, but Singh has been linked to controversy. He was tried for conspiracy to murder a journalist in 2002, and in 2015 reportedly advocated that 400 of his followers undergo castration to get closer to God.

Ed Adamczyk contributed to this report.

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