Behind Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's Conviction is a Sadhvi's Anonymous Letter to Vajpayee
The Dera Sacha Sauda was founded by Beparawah Mastana Ji Maharaj in 1948. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is the third head of the dera (Image: @Gurmeetramrahim/Twitter)
So what exactly is the case against this ‘Messenger of God’ and how did this case pan out? Are there any other cases against the Dera Sachha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh? News18 attempts to piece the details for you:
New Delhi: It is not often that one witnesses lakhs of followers of a self-styled godman gather in one place, not to seek his blessings but to pray for him to be acquitted in a rape case. But that's exactly what happened in Panchkula when lakhs gathered ahead of the Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh verdict.
The Dera chief was convicted and at least 28 people were killed in the violence after the court's judgment. On Monday, he was sentenced to 10 years in jail by a special CBI court.
So what exactly is the case against this ‘Messenger of God’ and how did this case pan out? Are there any other cases against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief? News18.com attempts to piece the details just hours before the verdict.
What is the genesis of the case?
In 2002, a sadhvi (a woman who partakes in activities of the Dera Sacha Sauda and often resides there) wrote an anonymous letter to then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, narrating her ordeal. She alleged that Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim had raped her and other sadhvis.
The contents of the letter indicated that she was called to Ram Rahim’s room one night. When she entered the room, the Dera chief, armed with a revolver, was allegedly watching a pornographic movie. The sadhvi had alleged that she was raped and assaulted for three years and that 40 other women were also sexually abused.
How did the case begin?
After the PM received the letter, the Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo motu cognizance of the case and it was referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in September 2002. The case involved the questioning of almost 18 sadhvis. Of them, two corroborated the statement of the sadhvi who had written the letter to Vajpayee.
The CBI had recorded the testimonies of all the witnesses under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code so it could be produced in court and not be dismissed as “statements under police coercion”.
What are the specific charges against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief?
The chargesheet was filed in 2007, almost five years after the original complaint was made. The chargesheet was registered on July 30, 2007. The trial commenced on September 6, 2008, and the charges that were invoked against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh were Section 376 (Rape) and Section 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC.
The original case was being tried in a CBI court in Ambala, but in 2011, it was shifted to Panchkula. Ram Rahim had denied charges and had also submitted before the court that he was not capable of committing such a crime due to “physical limitations”.
Are there any other cases against him?
The rape case got a lot more complicated after Ranjit Singh, a member of the Dera Sacha Sauda, was killed on July 10, 2002. Ranjit Singh was believed to have assisted the anonymous sadhvi.
Later, Ram Chander Chattrapati, a journalist working for Poora Sach was also killed. This was one of the few papers that had claimed to expose the “secrets” of the Dera Sacha Sauda.
Then came the mass castration case in 2014 which made a big dent on Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s reputation. A petition was filed by one of his followers, alleging that he was castrated on the godman’s orders and was told it would bring him good luck and fortune. He said 400 followers were put through the ordeal. The Dera Sacha Sauda chief had claimed in court that the act was consensual. The case is still pending.
The next year a suo motu probe was ordered into the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa, Haryana after a contempt petition was filed and media reports talked of illegal arms training at the place. However, after two inquiries by the Haryana government, the Punjab and Haryana High Court held that there was insufficient evidence on allegations of illegal arms training and possession.
Then came charges against Dera Sacha Sauda members of abducting a sadhvi. A woman named Guddi Devi was allegedly kidnapped by a Dera member. This had happened after Devi had gone to take part in a satsang at the sect’s headquarters. The complaint was filed under sections 365 for kidnapping, 344 and 346 for wrongful confinement and 120b for criminal conspiracy.