A court in Haryana’s Panchkula on Friday held Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty of ordering his followers to murder a journalist, ANI reported. The Central Bureau of Investigation special court also convicted three others of the murder and will pronounce the quantum of punishment on January 17.

Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati was shot dead in October 2002 after his newspaper Poora Sach published an anonymous letter narrating how Singh sexually harassed women at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa. A case was registered in 2003 and it was handed over the Central Bureau of Investigation in 2006.

Khatta Singh, a former driver of Ram Rahim Singh, had last year told the court that Ram Rahim ordered Chhatrapati’s murder through his close aides.

Singh is currently serving a 20-year prison term in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail for raping two of his followers in 2002. He is also accused in the murder of former Dera manager Ranjit Singh.

Several companies of state police, anti-riot police and commando force were deployed in Panchkula, Sirsa – where the Dera Sacha Sauda has its headquarters – and Rohtak districts ahead of the verdict. Security has also been increased in Punjab’s Bathinda and Ferozepur cities where there are many followers of the religious group. Police are monitoring sensitive areas like Faridkot, Moga, Baghapurana, Jaitu, and Kotkapura too.

In August 2017, Ram Rahim’s followers went on a rampage in Panchkula and Sirsa after the leader was convicted for rape. At least 30 people died in the violence in Panchkula, and six in Sirsa.