NEW DELHI: A special CBI court in Panchkula on Monday awarded life imprisonment to all the accused, including Dera Sacha Sauda’s Gurmeet Ram Rahim and four others in Ranjit Singh murder case. A fine of Rs 31 lakhs has been levied on Ram Rahim and Rs 50,000 on the remaining accused. The other convicted for the crime are Krishan Lal, Jasbir Singh, Avtar Singh and Sabdil. The dera chief had pleaded leniency, citing welfare works done by the dera. However, the CBI opposed it and demanded the ‘maximum punishment’ under the IPC Section 302. The special court had convicted them last week in the murder case of a dera manager, Ranjit Singh. The proceedings in the court began amid tight security arrangements. The dera chief, who is currently lodged in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail since his conviction in 2017 for raping his two disciples, appeared through video-conferencing, the other four were present in the court. One accused in the murder case had passed away a year ago. Former dera manager Ranjit Singh, who was also a follower of the sect, was shot dead in 2002. He was murdered for his suspected role in the circulation of an anonymous letter, which narrated how women were being sexually exploited by the dera head. According to the CBI charge sheet, the cera chief believed that Ranjit Singh was behind the circulation of the anonymous letter and hatched a conspiracy to kill him. Over two years ago, he was also awarded life imprisonment for the murder of a journalist, Ram Chander Chhatrapati. (With inputs from agencies)

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