A special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Haryana’s Panchkula town on Monday sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and four others to life imprisonment for the murder of a former manager of the sect, ANI reported.

Ranjit Singh was shot dead in Khanpur Kolian village in Kurukshetra district on July 10, 2002.

The four other convicts in the case are Dera Sacha Sauda manager Krishan Lal, shooters Jasbir Singh and Sabdil Singh and a man identified as Avtar Singh. Another accused man, Inder Sain, died in October 2020.

On October 8 this year, the court had convicted the five persons for the murder of Ranjit Singh under Sections 302 (punishment for murder) and 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

At Monday’s hearing, the court imposed a fine of Rs 31 lakh on Gurmeet Singh, according to NDTV. It also imposed a fine of Rs 1.5 lakh on Sabdil Singh, Rs 1.25 lakh each on Lal and Jasbir Singh and Rs 75,000 on Avtar Singh.

The judge has directed that half of this amount should be paid to Ranjit Singh’s family.

The court had reserved its verdict in the case on August 18, and was slated to pronounce it on August 26, The Indian Express reported. However, the verdict was delayed as Ranjit Singh’s son Jagseer Singh filing a plea in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, demanding that the case be transferred to another judge.

The High Court dismissed the petition on October 6.

Earlier in the day, the Haryana Police had put in place tight security arrangements in Panchkula and Sirsa, where the sect is headquartered.

In August 2017, large-scale violence had erupted in Panchkula after Gurmeet Singh was convicted for raping two of his followers. At least 30 people died and 250 were injured in the violence.

Gurmeet Singh is already serving a 20-year term in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail for the rape case.

Gurmeet Singh had suspected that Ranjit Singh was behind an anonymous letter alleging that women followers were sexually exploited in the sect, according to a chargesheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The Dera chief had then allegedly hatched a conspiracy to kill Ranjit Singh, the chargesheet added.