Heavy security cover was put in place in Panchkula and other parts of the Haryana and Punjab on Thursday ahead of the sentencing of Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in the murder case of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati.

The Central Bureau of Investigation court in Panchkula will hand down the quantum of punishment to the self-proclaimed godman and his three close aides, who were convicted on 11 January.

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The other three include former sect manager Krishan Lal and carpenters Kuldeep and Nirmal.

Special CBI judge Jagdeep Singh will read the verdict in court complex in Sector 1 of Panchkula, adjoining Chandigarh.

Security has also been beefed up in Haryana’s Sirsa, which is the headquarters of Dera Sacha Sauda.

The Punjab Police has also taken preventive security measures in the neighbouring state as the sect has lakhs of followers in Bathinda, Mansa and Sangrur.

Ram Rahim’s previous conviction on 25 August 2017, had led to violence in Panchkula and Sirsa, leaving 41 people dead and over 260 injured.

Chhatrapati was shot outside his house on 24 October 2002 and died on 21 November in a hospital in New Delhi.

His newspaper, ‘Poora Sach’, had published an anonymous letter narrating how women were being sexually exploited by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa.

The case with the self-styled godman named as main accused was registered in 2003. Three years later, CBI took over the case.

The court had on Wednesday allowed authorities in Haryana to produce the disgraced sect chief and three others before it through video-conferencing for their sentencing.

Ram Rahim is currently serving a 20-year prison term for raping two of his followers. He is lodged in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail.

Chhatrapati’s son Anshul has demanded capital punishment for the disgraced self-styled godman.