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Forgive me, I'm innocent: Ram Rahim cried, pleaded for leniency at court

Forgive me, I'm innocent: Ram Rahim cried, pleaded for leniency at court

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court sentenced Dera Sacha Suda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 10 years in prison on Monday, three days after convicting him of rape.

Security was beefed up in and around the city in the run-up to the sentencing of the 50-year-old self-styled "godman".

Thus, parts of Haryana, Punjab, and Chandigarh have been under a security lockdown as 200,000 supporters of Ram Rahim had assembled in Panchkula ahead of the verdict.

Some Haryana Police officers and paramilitary force personnel inside the court complex in Sector 1 of Panchkula immediately sensed the situation and took the disgraced sect chief into custody after a scuffle with his security personnel who numbered seven to eight.

"So far the situation is peaceful", a senior government official Umma Shanker told media. Over 250 people were injured in the violence.

The forces also conducted flag march in Rohtak Sunday, where prohibitory orders under Section 144 were in place. A judge was flown to the jail by helicopter. Ram Rahim's sentencing to begin by 2:30 pm.

The Dera chief also pleaded for a lighter sentence, saying "mujhe maaf kardo" (please forgive me).

Thousands of supporters of a controversial Indian guru ended a tense standoff with soldiers on Sunday, avoiding renewed violence after their leader's rape conviction sparked riots in which at least 36 people died.

Violence may erupt in Haryana after the quantum of sentence is pronounced against Dera Sacha Sauda head, state's intelligence agency has cautioned.

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The sect campaigns for vegetarianism and against drug addiction.

He has started a film franchise in which he stars as the "Messenger of God", or MSG, with divine powers to save the world. In the movies he dons bejewelled costumes, rides motorbikes and sends bad guys flying.

Prior to his conviction Singh was enjoying a political patronage and had cordial relations with the politicians.

Singh can now file an appeal against the sentence with the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

"Our intelligence reports caution that there could be arson and some other incidents", said Karan Avtar Singh, the chief secretary of the Punjab government.

Haryana DGP B.S. Sandhu, who on August 24 was pulled up by the high court in Panchkula for allowing Singh's followers to gather in large numbers, had assured that barring a few vehicles in Singh's convoy others would not be allowed to enter Panchkula or the court premises.

However, his party which governs Haryana has come under heavy fire for failing to prevent deadly violence in the state against court's order.

The CEO of Union Carbide - the late Warren Anderson - had been given a free passage to leave the country and both the then chief minister of MP - the late Arjun Singh - and the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had faced flak for allowing it to happen.


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