Ambala court grants bail to Dera chief

Ambala, India - A special court here Thursday granted bail to controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh in two cases of conspiracy to murder and one of rape registered against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The bail order, given by CBI court judge R.K. Saini, has come as a relief to the sect chief who has been involved in various controversies in recent years, including the latest one of hurting religious sentiments of Sikhs in neighbouring Punjab.

He was asked to furnish bonds of Rs.500,000 each for bail in each of the three cases.

The sect chief had been accused in the murder conspiracy of Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati in November 2001 and dera manager Ranjit Singh in July 2002.

He was also accused by a female follower (sadhvi) of raping her inside the sprawling dera campus on the outskirts of Sirsa town in Haryana, 300 km from state capital Chandigarh.

The dera chief had personally appeared before the court here Oct 5 in connection with the cases. Over 125,000 of his followers had gathered on that day in his support.

Lawyers representing the CBI said that they would appeal in the high court against the regular bail granted to the sect chief.

Followers of the sect distributed sweets here and at the dera headquarters at Sirsa following Ram Rahim's bail.

The Haryana Police had made elaborate security arrangements in Ambala and Sirsa.