A man dubbed ‘the guru in bling’ who allegedly convinced up to 400 men to cut off their own testicles so it would bring them closer to God has been jailed for rape.
‘Holy man’ Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who has an estimated net worth of $40 (£26) million and has 50 million followers worldwide, is head of the socio-spiritual organisation Dera Sacha Sauda.
The Indian Express placed Singh 96th in their list of the 100 most powerful Indians of 2015.
The preacher previously hit the headlines when he allegedly convinced up to 400 men to carry out castrations on themselves because it would bring them closer to God.
The procedures, which witnesses say were conducted at a hospital owned by Singh, took place around the year 2000 but are coming to light because those involved are speaking out for the first time.
Singh was charged with conspiracy involving the murder of an investigative journalist in 2002 and several female followers claim he sexually assaulted them.
The self-styled holy man was found guilty last month of sexually assaulting two female followers and jailed for 10 years for each, to run consecutively.
Prosecutors had called for a life sentence.
A lawyer for the victims said 50 women had come forward with allegations of rape and they would be seeking further investigation in the case.
“We believe there are at least 48 more victims who were sexually abused and who may have been killed or are too scared to come out and testify against Ram Rahim,” lawyer Utsav Singh Bains told AFP.
Ram Rahim Singh denies charges of murder in two cases due to be heard next month.