Self-styled “godman” Singh, along with aides Kuldeep Singh, Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal, was convicted on murder charges and criminal conspiracy by a court in Panchkula in northern Haryana state on Friday last week.
Despite his earlier conviction, Singh remains an influential figure in India where he commands a loyal and devoted following. Known as the “guru of bling” on account of his previously flamboyant lifestyle, Singh starred in five films and numerous popular music videos, including the “Messenger of God,” in which he acts as the hero who saves the nation.
In 2002, Ram Chander Chhatrapati, the editor of Hindi-language daily “Poora Sacch” (The Whole Truth) was shot dead following the publication of an anonymous letter by one of Singh’s followers.
The letter, which eventually led to the 2017 sentencing of Singh, described incidents of sexual abuse at the Dera Sacha Sauda compound in the state of Haryana.
“The next day onwards, there were threats and he understood that he was likely to be killed. Still, he decided to soldier on,” said Anshul. “My faith in law has been reaffirmed. The sacrifice of my father was to uphold the journalistic principles of complete truth,” he added.
Police in northern India have been placed on standby following Thursday’s sentencing. Singh’s conviction in 2017 sparked deadly protests, as supporters went on a rampage in towns across the northern Indian states of Punjab and Haryana. At least 31 people were killed in the clashes and hundreds injured.