Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted by a Special CBI court on Friday for the murder of Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati. Three others, who were close aides of the sect chief, were also convicted by the court. The judgment was pronounced by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court judge Jagdeep Singh in Panchkula, adjoining Chandigarh. Chhatrapati was shot at in October 2002 after his newspaper, 'Poora Sach', published an anonymous letter narrating how women were being sexually exploited by Gurmeet Ram Rahim at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa. The journalist later succumbed to injuries and a case was registered in 2003. The case was handed over to the CBI in 2006.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim appeared through video conferencing for the hearing in journalist Ramchandra Chhatrapati's murder case today.
On Tuesday, the special CBI court in Panchkula had accepted the state's plea and allowed the presence of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh through video conferencing for a January 11 hearing in the murder case.
Meanwhile, security was tightened especially in Panchkula, Sirsa (headquarter of Dera) and Rohtak districts with several companies of the state armed police, anti-riot police and commando force being deployed to deal with any law and order situation.
According to a police official, directions were issued to police in all the districts to not allow any unnecessary gathering and maintain extra vigil. Police nakas have also been laid at several places.
An additional police force was alsocdeployed near the headquarters of Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa in Haryana.
Violence had erupted in Panchkula and Sirsa in Haryana in August 2017 following the conviction of Dera sect head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, leaving over 40 persons dead and scores of people injured.
The 51-year-old sect head is currently serving a 20-year prison term in Rohtak's Sunaria jail for raping two of his women followers.
In Punjab where there are sizeable numbers of Dera followers, elaborate security arrangements were made in Bathinda and Ferozepur ranges.