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For Ram Rahim, Prisoner Number 1997, Simple Clothes, Small Cell And Tears

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Sentencing: The Dera chief was found guilty of raping two women followers.

Rohtak, Haryana:  Gurmeet Ram Rahim has not stopped crying since a special court sent him to jail for 20 years this evening.  The 50-year-old chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, who was convicted for raping two women 15 years ago, had broken down in court. “I am innocent… please forgive me,” he had wailed after special judge Jagdeep Singh pronounced the sentence.

Prisoner number 1997 – the number was accorded to him since he was taken to the Sonaria jail in Rohtak after his guilty verdict on Friday — has not stopped weeping since, a jail inmate told NDTV.  

After the sentence was delivered, Ram Rahim was taken for a medical examination. Then he was given simple prison garments, a far cry from the glittering outfits he favours — and was lodged in a small cell, alone.

The inmate was told by jail authorities that Ram Rahim has been kept on his own for his own protection. Ram Rahim’s lawyer had asked that a couple of attendants be allowed to stay with him in view of his health. The 50-year-old reportedly suffers from migraine and backache. Two senior officers have been assigned for the protection of the VIP prisoner, who had been accorded Z-Plus security by the Haryana government. Two more security staff are keeping guard near his cell.

Ram Rahim has been lodged in an approval cell.  It is most easily reachable and closest to the administration. The other two kinds of barracks are called special cell and high-security cell.

The inmate say he has eaten no solid food since Friday. “He drank only some water or milk in between. He was not speaking to anyone in jail,” said an inmate who has been out on bail since.  The high-profile prisoner, he said, had arrived in a car.  

Over the years, the self-styled spiritual leader claimed he had film stars, cricketers and politicians among millions of supporters spread across several countries. His sprawling, 700-acre headquarters in Sirsa housed hundreds of followers. On Friday, his 200-car cavalcade to Panchkula had contained more than 25 luxury vehicles. The police say some of them contained staves and rods.

After the verdict, Ram Rahim had been flown in a special chopper from the court in Panchkula to the high security prison in Rohtak on Friday as his followers unleashed a spate of violence across the city, stoning the police and burning cars. The violence had spread to the neighbouring states and reached the borders of Delhi.

For today’s sentencing, the Haryana government — which had been accused of underestimating the scale of violence that could follow – had arranged for multi-tier security. More than 4,000 police and paramilitary forces had been stationed across the town. The army had been put on stand-by.