Amid tight security, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court has started hearing in two separate murder cases against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in Chandigarh.
Contingents of paramilitary troops and the Haryana Police have been deployed in Panchkula as security arrangements were tightened ahead of hearing.
Fifty-year-old Ram Rahim Singh will appear before a CBI special court here through video conferencing from the Rohtak jail, where he is lodged after being sentenced to 20 years in prison in two rape cases.
The CBI court is hearing the cases of murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati and former Dera manager Ranjit Singh. Murder is punishable with life imprisonment or death sentence.
"We have made adequate security arrangements ahead of the hearing in the cases," Haryana Director General of Police B S Sandhu said here today.
Contingents of paramilitary troops and the Haryana Police have been stationed in Panchkula to prevent any untoward incident, he said.
"The hearing in the cases against Ram Rahim, who is lodged in Sunaria jail in Rohtak, will be conducted through video conferencing," Sandhu said.
Ram Rahim was sentenced to 20 years in jail on August 28 in the two rape cases by the special CBI Court.
Several parts of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan had witnessed large-scale violence following his conviction in the two rape cases on August 25.
While forty-one people were killed in Haryana in the violence, no deaths were reported from Punjab and Rajasthan.
CBI counsel H P S Verma said, "The final arguments in the two murders cases will start tomorrow."
Sirsa-based journalist Chhatrapati was shot at in October, 2002 after the evening newspaper 'Poora Sach', owned by him, published an anonymous letter narrating how women were allegedly being sexually exploited by the sect head at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa. He died later.
The second case relates to the murder of former Dera manager Ranjit Singh who was allegedly shot dead in 2002. He was murdered for his suspected role in the circulation of the anonymous letter, which had made the sexual exploitation allegations, according to the prosecution
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had, in November 2003, ordered a CBI probe into the murder of Chhatrapati and Ranjit Singh after the families of both the victims approached the court.
The CBI had filed the charge sheet in the murder cases on July 30, 2007.
Here are the live updates:
* Khatta Singh, driver of Dera head who had turned hostile in rape cases, has appeared before the CBI court. He has urged the court to allow him to depose in murder cases.
* I was scared that they would kill me and my son, we were threatened: Khatta Singh, witness in murder case against.
* Hearing in murder case against Ram Rahim begins at CBI Special Court in Panchkula
* The court hearing will take place via a video call.