Panchkula: They were demanding the death penalty but the life sentence awarded to self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has brought a measure of relief to members of the slain journalist's family.
A special CBI court Thursday sentenced the Dera Sacha Sauda head and three others to life imprisonment for the murder of Ram Chander Chhatrapati in Haryana's Sirsa in 2002.
They were convicted last Friday for killing the journalist after he published an anonymous letter alleging sexual exploitation of women at the sect's headquarters in Sirsa.
Though we were demanding capital punishment but this sentence is no less than the death sentence as he will not be able to come out of the jail for his entire life. He will be behind bars till his last breath, Shreyasi Chhatrapati, the journalist's daughter, said.
Gurmeet will now remember his crime every day and then weep while being in jail, she said. We are satisfied with the quantum of punishment pronounced by the court."
Her brother Anshul Chhatrapati also expressed relief.
We are relieved today with the pronouncement of the sentence, said the 38-year-old who fought a 16-year battle for justice.
Both thanked the judiciary and expressed gratitude for the efforts of the Central Bureau of Investigation and other well-wishers.
On January 11, special CBI Court judge Jagdeep Singh had convicted Ram Rahim and three others for the 2002 murder.
The godman was already serving a 20-year sentence in a rape case and had appeared before the court through video conferencing.
The same procedure was followed when the quantum of punishment was pronounced Thursday.
While Gurmeet Ram Rahim appeared through video conferencing from Sunaria jail in Rohtak, the three others - Nirmal Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Krishan Lal appeared were in Ambala jail.
All four were convicted under section 302 (murder) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.