A Central Bureau of Investigation court in Haryana’s Panchkula on Thursday sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to life imprisonment for ordering his followers to murder a journalist, ANI reported. The three other accused – Kuldeep Singh, Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal – were also awarded life sentence.

The court imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 each on the accused.

The court had convicted the four in the murder case on January 11. 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.

Security was heightened in Panchkula court complex and Sirsa, where the sect’s headquarters is located, ahead of the sentencing.

The court on Wednesday accepted the Haryana government’s plea to allow Singh to appeal for the hearing through video conferencing.

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. A case was registered in 2003 and it was handed over the CBI in 2006.

Khatta Singh, a former driver of Ram Rahim Singh, last year told the court that Ram Rahim had asked his close aides to murder Chhatrapati.

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