In less than five months of granting a 21-day furlough, self-styled jailed godman and Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was on Friday granted parole for a month by the BJP-led Haryana government.
He is currently serving a life term for the murder of his manager in 2002 and was also convicted for the rape of two women in 2017.
He’s lodged in Haryana’s Sunaria jail since 2017 after being convicted in the rape and murder cases. He has a large number of followers in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Earlier, he was released from the jail four times for various reasons, including his plea to meet the ailing mother. The parole has been granted for the first time since his conviction.
Justifying the decision, an official said Ram Rahim has been granted parole as per the jail manual.
He will stay in Barnawa in Bagpath, the first ashram established in Uttar Pradesh in 1980, during parole.
According to an official, the dera chief was provided Z-plus security cover during his parole owing to the “high threat perception” to his life from “pro-Khalistan” groups.
Earlier just ahead of the Punjab polls, Ram Rahim, who is lodged at the high-security Sunaria jail in Rohtak, 250 kms from state capital Chandigarh, was granted furlough on February 7 to meet his family in Gurugram.
In June 2019, Ram Rahim Singh had withdrawn his parole plea after the state BJP government was cornered by opposition parties for favouring the self-styled godman, who sought parole for 42 days to tend to his agricultural fields at his sect’s headquarters in Sirsa town.
Also, the high court had rejected his parole plea for attending the wedding ceremony of his foster daughter.
Ram Rahim was sentenced to 20 years in jail in August 2017 for raping two women.
A special CBI court in Panchkula this January 2019 also sentenced Ram Rahim and three others to life imprisonment for the murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati over 16 years ago.
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.