Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was revered "on the pedestal of God" but he committed breach of the gravest nature, a special court said on Monday whilesentencing the self-styled spiritual guru to 20 years in jail for raping two of his "gullible and blind followers".
Rejecting leniency for the weeping and wailing Ram Rahim in court, Justice Jagdeep Singh announced 10 years in jail for each rape, running consecutively.
"A man who has neither any concern for humanity nor has any mercy in his nature does not deserve leniency," the court said of the 50-year-old chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, known for his flashy clothes, extravagant lifestyle and outlandish films.
"He acted like a wild beast... Such a criminal act by one who is stated to be heading a religious organisation is bound to shatter images of pious and sacred spiritual social cultural and religious institutions existing in the country since time immemorial," said the judge. He said it reflects "irreparable damages caused by the acts of the convict to the heritage of this ancient land."
The Dera chief has been fined Rs. 15 lakh in each case, which will be given to the women he raped.
"The court is of the view that if acts of the convict in sexually exploiting his own female disciples and intimidating them of dire consequences are taken note of, then such persons do not deserve any kind of leniency from the court," said Judge Singh.
Ram Rahim was convicted on Friday of raping the two disciples in 2002. Yesterday, the judge flew by government helicopter to conduct court at a prison in Haryana's Rohtak. The Dera chief sat on the floor and wept, screaming: "Please forgive me...I am innocent."
He had to be dragged out of the court by commandos. Witnesses say he couldn't stop weeping as he was taken for his medical tests, given prison wear and lodged in a cell as prisoner number 1997.
Ahead of the sentencing, thousands of soldiers enforced a lockdown in Rohtak and other parts of Haryana and Punjab, where Ram Rahim has a mass following. His followers went on a deadly rampage after he was convicted on Friday, with 38 people killed and over 200 injured in the violence.
During the arguments, the CBI, which investigated the baba, said he had sexually assaulted a "victim who used to treat him as a father and used to worship him".
The judge said he was obliged to "curtain evil" and stated that Ram Rahim "committed breach of gravest nature by sexually assaulting such gullible and blind followers".