India: cult leader Ram Rahim Singh sentenced to 20 years in prison for rape

India: cult leader Ram Rahim Singh sentenced to 20 years in prison for rape
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An Indian judge on Monday handed a 20-year jail sentence to self-styled ‘godman’ Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, following his conviction for rape last Friday.

There have been no reports of violence but thousands of riot police had enforced a lockdown in parts of Punjab and Haryana states where he has a mass following.

Security forces have cordoned off a jail in Rohtak city, 70 km from New Delhi, where the 50-year-old is being held.

Those loyal to him went on a deadly rampage following Friday’s verdict, at least 38 people were killed and more than 200 injured, triggering criticism that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, which also governs the state of Haryana, was either unable or unwilling to act against Singh’s followers.

Also known as the guru of bling for the bejeweled costumes he wears in self-produced films, Singh faces a minimum of seven years under new tough rape laws.

The case dates back to 2002 when two women followers accused Singh of rape at the headquarters of his Dera Sacha Sauda in the town of Sirsa. His lawyers say they will appeal the verdict.

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