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12.01 28 Aug 2017


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A self-styled "godman" who was found guilty of raping two female devotees has been jailed for 10 years by a judge in India.

Violent protests broke out after spiritual guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted last week - killing at least 38 people and injuring hundreds more.

Amid fears of further clashes, the judge flew to the prison where he is being held to deliver the sentence, and "shoot on sight" orders have been put in place if anyone tries to start a protest.

The 50-year-old, who is known as the "guru in bling," claims to have more than one million followers.

After Friday's verdict, tens of thousands of outraged supporters took to the streets, with some setting fire to government buildings and attacking police officers.

Violence following the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, 25-Aug-2017. Image: Hindustan Times/SIPA USA/PA Images

 

In 2015, Singh had started a film franchise portraying himself as "Messenger of God" - performing miracles, preaching to thousands and beating up gangsters while singing and dancing.

The convictions relate to the rape of two of Mr Singh’s followers at the headquarters of his Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS) sect, in a case dating back to 2002.

The quasi-religious sect, of which Singh is the leader, is described as a social welfare and spiritual organisation.

Singh, who calls himself Saint Dr Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan, claims to have millions of followers.

He had denied the rape charge and called on his supporters to remain peaceful via a video message.


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