AP Photos: Flamboyant Indian guru sentenced to prison

AP News
Posted: Aug 28, 2017 11:02 AM
AP Photos: Flamboyant Indian guru sentenced to prison

A popular and flamboyant Indian spiritual guru, who calls himself Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, was sentenced by a judge on Monday to 20 years in prison on charges of raping two female followers.

The guru has denied raping the two followers, in a case that stems from charges filed in 2002.

The bling-loving leader is fond of red leather jackets, bejeweled hats, bicep-baring T-shirts — and cinema.

He has started a film franchise in which he stars as the "Messenger of God," or MSG, with divine powers to save the world. In his most recent film, he plays a secret agent armed with a twirled moustache and an assortment of swords to fight aliens and UFOs.

The sect claims to have about 50 million followers and campaigns for vegetarianism and against drug addiction. It also organizes blood-donation and tree-planting drives.

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Religious sects like the Dera Sacha Sauda have huge followings in India. These sects and their leaders inspire intense devotion among their believers and also wield considerable political clout. Many maintain private militias for their protection.