Indian guru in prison for rape is convicted of murder

NEW DELHI (AP) – A popular and flamboyant spiritual guru in India, who is serving 20 years in prison for raping two female followers, was convicted on Friday of murdering a journalist 16 years ago in another case.

Judge Jagdeep Singh convicted the guru, who calls himself Dr Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, and three other people and will sentence them on January 17.

All four could face death sentences in the killing of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati after he published a letter in his newspaper alleging sexual exploitation of women by the guru.

The guru was named as the main conspirator in the murder case. He is currently being held in a prison in the northern India town of Rohtak after he was sentenced in August in the rape case. He was also fined three million rupees.

His conviction last year sparked violent protests by his followers that left at least 38 people dead and hundreds injured in the northern town of Panchkula.

He played himself in hagiographic biopics and courted India’s powerful politicians. He lived with tens of thousands of his followers on a sprawling 400-hectare ashram in Haryana state until he was sentenced last year.

File photo shows Indian spiritual guru who calls himself Dr Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan (C) greeting followers. – AP