Parole to Dera chief Ram Rahim rejected

Chandigarh, Aug 9 (IANS) In another setback to controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who is serving a 20-year jail sentence for raping two of his disciples, jail authorities in Rohtak on Friday refused to grant him a three-week parole to meet his ailing mother.

The decision not to grant the parole was taken by jail superintendent Sunil Sangwan after Justice Kuldip Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the state to take a decision on the representation of Ram Rahim Singh's wife Harjit Kaur.

She moved the parole plea saying that Ram Rahim Singh's mother Naseeb Kaur, 85, was suffering from a heart disease and she was not taking the treatment in the absence of her son.

Ram Rahim (51) is currently lodged at the high-security Sunaria jail in Rohtak, 250 kms from state capital Chandigarh.

Officials say his parole was rejected on two counts.

First, the parole could create law and order problems in the state at the time of his release and surrender later.

Second, a report by a panel of doctors, who examined his mother, said she is suffering from a heart disease, but is not in critical condition.

On August 5, the Dera chief's wife Harjit Kaur filed a plea in the high court, which said: "My mother-in-law wants her son to remain present during her treatment."

The high court asked the jail authorities to take a decision regarding the parole within five days.

It also issued direction that "if the jail superintendent is satisfied that this case is covered under the Haryana Good Conduct Prisoners Temporary Release Act, he can decide within a timeframe fixed by the jail department".

"If he is not satisfied, he would forward the case to the authorities after recording the reasons, who shall decide the same," Justice Kuldeep Singh said.

Ram Rahim Singh had withdrawn his parole plea in June at the last minute after the state BJP government was cornered by opposition parties for favouring the self-styled godman, who sought a parole of 42 days for tending the sprawling fields in his sect's headquarters in Sirsa town.

Earlier, the high court had in May rejected Ram Rahim's parole plea for attending the wedding ceremony of his foster daughters.

The self-styled godman was sentenced to 20 years in jail in August 2017 for raping two women.

A special CBI court in Panchkula this January also sentenced him and three others to life imprisonment for the murder of a journalist over 16 years ago.

In the jail too, Ram Rahim spends most of his time growing vegetables and fruits and daily earns Rs 20 for eight hours of farming which comes under the unskilled work category.

As per the jail superintendent, Ram Rahim's conduct in the jail is like a "disciplined inmate".

His conviction on August 25, 2017, had led to violence in Panchkula and Sirsa, leaving 41 people dead and over 260 injured.

Ram Rahim was patronised by political leaders and parties in Punjab and Haryana for nearly two decades due to his ability to influence the votes of his followers.

--IANS

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