Disgraced Indian guru convicted of murdering journalist

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In this Oct. 5, 2016 file photo, Indian spiritual guru who calls himself Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, center, greets followers as he arrives for a press conference ahead of the release of his new movie "MSG: The Warrior Lion Heart," in New Delhi, India. (AP)
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In this file photo taken on August 25, 2017, a follower of Indian religious leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh pleads for her safety during clashes between the controversial guru's followers and security forces in Panchkula on August 25, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 12 January 2019
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Disgraced Indian guru convicted of murdering journalist

  • When Singh was convicted in 2017 of raping two of his disciples, his followers went on the rampage leaving nearly 40 people dead

NEW DELHI: An Indian court Friday convicted a disgraced but still-powerful religious sect leader of murdering a journalist after he exposed rampant sexual abuses by the guru.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who headed the powerful Dera Sacha Sauda sect with millions of followers worldwide, is already serving a 20-year prison sentence for rape.
The court on Friday found 51-year-old Singh and three of his close aides guilty of killing local newspaper journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati in 2002.
Chhatrapati was shot outside his house after his local newspaper published an anonymous letter describing rampant sexual abuse by Singh at his sprawling and luxurious sect headquarters.
Public prosecutor H.P.S. Verma said sentencing would be pronounced on Thursday. The maximum sentence is the death penalty.
When Singh was convicted in 2017 of raping two of his disciples, his followers went on the rampage leaving nearly 40 people dead.
To avoid a repeat, Friday’s court proceedings were conducted via video link from his jail cell in the northern state of Haryana.
Riot police patrolled outside the special court in the city of Panchkula.
Since 2015, Singh has also been on trial for castrating 400 of his followers, who alleged that they were promised spiritual gains.
His Dera defended the sterilsation claiming it was done to “safeguard female followers from possible sexual advances.”
Singh is also accused in the murder of his former manager after he threatened to expose his wrongdoings.


EU leaders’ decision on Brexit delay unlikely this week: Juncker

Updated 38 min 22 sec ago
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EU leaders’ decision on Brexit delay unlikely this week: Juncker

  • The delay, nearly three years since the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, leaves the Brexit divorce uncertain

BERLIN: European Union leaders are unlikely to agree at a summit this week on a delay to Britain’s departure, and will probably have to meet again next week, the head of the bloc’s executive branch said Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to ask Brussels for a delay to Brexit, currently scheduled for March 29, ahead of the EU summit starting Thursday. Details remain unclear, but May’s troubles deepened when the speaker of the House of Commons ruled earlier this week that she can’t keep asking lawmakers to vote on the same divorce deal they have already rejected twice.

Britain’s political chaos is causing increasing exasperation among EU leaders. Asked by Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio what May would need to secure a delay this week, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker replied that “she must bring approval of the negotiated deal and she must bring clear ideas on timing.”

“My impression is ... that this week at the European Council there will be no decision, but that we will probably have to meet again next week, because Mrs. May doesn’t have agreement to anything, either in her Cabinet or in Parliament,” Juncker added.

“As long as we don’t know what Britain could say yes to, we can’t reach a decision.”

A delay to Britain’s withdrawal would require the approval of all 27 remaining EU countries. Juncker said that “in all probability” Britain won’t leave on March 29, but underlined the EU’s insistence that it will not reopen the painstakingly negotiated withdrawal agreement that British lawmakers have snubbed.

“There will be no renegotiations, no new negotiations and no additional assurances on top of the additional assurances we have already given,” he said.

“We will keep talking to the British. We are not in a state of war with Britain, we are in a state of negotiations, but the negotiations are concluded.”