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Day after Ram Rahim's sentencing, peace prevails in Haryana, Punjab

Day after Ram Rahim's sentencing, peace prevails in Haryana, Punjab”

A special CBI court judge on Monday awarded Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh 20 years sentence in prison in two separate rape cases of 2002. However, the two states were still on high alert to prevent any incidence of violence or arson as was witnessed in Panchkula on Friday last after conviction of the Dera chief by the CBI court. The conviction sparked deadly protests. Since Saturday, police have been asking followers to leave the ashram compound, and around 20,000 people left.

An FIR filed by the Haryana Police revealed that Dera Sacha Sauda followers had a plan to help Ram Rahim Singh escape the police.

Ram Rahim was convicted of raping two of his followers by the CBI court, which pronounced 10 year jail for him in both cases.

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Utsav Singh Bains, lawyer for the victims, said he would seek a longer sentence and asked India's federal investigations bureau to look into dozens more alleged cases of abuse. The yoga guru, who was here to attend a private function, said that the entire saint community should not be seen in a bad light because of people like Gurmeet Ram Rahim getting convicted in a criminal case.

Authorities have brought intense security to the city of Rohtak, where Singh is being held, amid fears of a repeat of Friday's violence, when tens of thousands of his supporters set fire to cars and clashed with security forces. Singh, also known as the guru of bling for the bejewelled costumes he wears in self-produced films, faced a minimum of seven years under new tough rape laws.

Security was high Monday across Haryana and the neighboring state of Punjab, with schools and offices shut in many places.

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The sect campaigns for vegetarianism and against drug addiction. However, he wields huge power and influence across India's religious and political spectrum.

While Haryana state was represented by Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan, Punjab AG Atul Nanda represented the state and the Dera's counsel was also present.

Amid this tight security, a judge flew out to the jail to deliver the verdict in person. It was also revealed, during the investigation, that after the rape victim got married in 2001, her brother came to her on July 1, 2002, and told her that people from the Dera were threatening to eliminate his children and parents. He has denied the accusations.

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