Bengaluru: The chief investigating officer in the rape case against Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has revealed that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had ignored political pressure and given Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) a free hand.
"The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stood by the CBI and ordered us to go by the law. He went through the statement made by two Sadhvis before a judge and did not succumb to the pressures from Punjab and Haryana MPs. After a lot of pressure from these MPs, Manmohan Singh had summoned the then CBI chief Vijay Shanker to his office to discuss the case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. After seeing the victim's statements before a judge, Singh backed us," said M Narayanan, retired DIG of the CBI, who was the chief investigating officer in the rape case against Dera chief.
Narayanan has also praised his boss Vijay Shanker for standing up to Punjab and Haryana MPs. Speaking to News18, he said, "When powerful MPs asked him to drop cases against Ram Rahim, Vijay Shanker refused to do so. He backed us fully".
A native of Kasaragod in Kerala, Narayanan was in Mysore on the day Ram Rahim was sentenced to 20 years in jail. Expressing satisfaction over the punishment handed over to the rapist, he said that Ram Rahim would also be convicted in other cases, including the murder of two people.
Talking about how his team conducted the investigation, Narayanan said, "The complaint was sent in 2002. But nothing had happened till 2007. Expressing serious concerns over the progress of the investigation, the Punjab & Haryana High Court took the CBI to task. It had even summoned the chief Vijay Shanker to court seeking an explanation. After that he gave us Sadhvis letters, files of the murder of journalist Ramachandra Chatrapati and Dera volunteer Ranjit Singh. He ordered us to go ahead and complete the investigation in just 57 days as ordered by the High Court".
According to him the task was huge as Sadhvis letters were anonymous. "We came to know that between 1999 and 2002, over 200 Sadhvis had left the Dera because of sexual harassment. Finally we could trace just 10 victims. But they were married and did not come forward to lodge a complaint. We managed to persuade just two victims and filed charge sheet before a court in Ambala on the 56th day".
He said that entering the fortress like Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa itself was a very difficult job. The CBI team led by him was threatened by the goons of Ram Rahim and they had to face a lot of hostility. Narayanan said that Ram Rahim was living like a medieval emperor in his so-called ashram (Goofa) surrounded by pretty women known as Sadhvis. Every night around 10 PM, the head Sadhvi used to get a call from him instructing her to send a Sadhvi to his bedroom and she used to force one of the Sadhvis selected by him to sleep with the "guru". Narayanan added that Ram Rahim was extremely careful like a seasoned criminal and never used to leave any traces of his crime. "He had a collection of condoms and contraceptives in his room. He was a maniac, a real beast", the investigating officer said.
"Ranjit Singh was a prominent volunteer at the Dera. After his sister was raped by Ram Rahim, both of them had left Sirsa. A few days later an anonymous letter reached Punjab and Haryana High Court. Suspecting that Ranjit Singh was behind it, Dera chief ordered his men to murder him. It has been proved that the pistol used by his murderers belonged to Dera manager. They had also left a walkie-talkie at the scene of crime. I am sure Ram Rahim will be convicted in these heinous cases too," said Narayanan who had retired in 2009.