IndiaToday.in | Posted by Isha Gupta
New Delhi, August 26, 2017 | UPDATED 22:09 IST
(Note: Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim is married to Harjeet Kaur, with whom he has three daughters and a son. The new dera head is not as simple-living-high-thinking leader as his predecessors were. His love for shiny costumes is easily evident in his life-style and in the movies he has produced and acted in. With contacts with the netas of both the Congress and BJP parties, and those in power, his obsession for power and pomp grew by leaps and bounds day by day. So much so, even on his way to the Special CBI Court of Panchkula on 25th August, where he was convicted for rape, he was allowed a cavalcade of 200 cars. Popularly known as Baba, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh claims to command a veritable following of more than 60 million of his faithfuls, especially the Dalit Sikhs, according to the website of his organisation Dera Sacha Sauda. The quantum of the Dera Chief's punishment will be announced on Monday, 28th August 2017. Curfew has been clamped in sensitive areas to prevent a recurrence of the violence which flared up immediately after his conviction. Isaac Gomes, Church Citizens' Voice).
A 23-year-old boy Gurmeet Singh became Huzoor Maharaj Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh ji is now just an ordinary convict in Rohtak's Suniara jail after a special CBI court found him guilty of raping a follower. Before becoming an ascetic he had a family that he officially renounced but like all other dualities in his life, he continued to be the head of the family. His story is as astonishing and colourful as his films.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim flanked by daughters Amarpreet and Charanpreet with adopted daughter and confidante Honeypreet. It was Honeypreet who was seen on the TV accompanying Gurmeet Ram Rahim on his way to the jail.
He did not have humble beginnings. His father Maghar Singh was a landlord in Rajasthan's Sri Ganganagar district. Mother Naseeb Kaur was a god-fearing housewife. Maghar Singh came in touch with Dera Sacha Sauda pretty early in life. The dera founded by Baba Balochistani Beparwah Mastana ji attracted followers from the backward and dalit sections of society, who couldn't get the equality that Sikhism promised. Jat and Khatri Sikhs never accorded them equality in practice.
Maghar Singh was a Jat Sikh. The dera head Shah Satnam was a Khatri Sikh, who had succeeded Mastana. Maghar Singh was a follower of Satnam Shah and devoted a lot of time in spreading his spiritual leader's thoughts. Maghar Singh's son Gurmeet wasn't as spiritual but accompanied his father to the dera.
Gurmeet Singh's friend Gurjant Singh was jailed after he avenged his uncle's murder. In jail Gurjant was radicalised by separatist Khalistani militants. Once he came out of the jail, Gurjant became a Khalistani terrorist and rose quickly in the ranks. Gurmeet meanwhile was a full-time worker in the dera, doing odd jobs, driving a tractor or assisting his father in seva.
Then, in an unexpected announcement, dera head Shah Satnam announced that he would retire after handing over the leadership to a successor. There were three contenders. Gurmeet was not one of them. In a surprise public announcement, the dera head anointed Gurmeet Singh his successor and gave him the name Huzoor Maharaj Gurmeet Ram Rahim. People in Sirsa say Gurjant Singh and a revolver were involved in the process. There is no evidence of any threat of violence, but people still attribute Gurmeet's rise to Gurjant's notoriety. Gurjant was later killed by security forces in Mohali.
The new dera head wasn't as simple-living-high-thinking leader as his predecessors. His love for shiny costumes took an obsessive tone later. He has a son and two daughters when he became celibate. The family that he publicly renounced continued to be with him in his dera quarters. He himself was surrounded by sadhikas (women devotee attendees). He later adopted a bubbly young girl Honeypreet as his third daughter. The three call themselves Papa's Angels. All other devotees also call him Pitaji or Papa ji. Honeypreet is the same woman who accompanied Baba Ram Rahim while he was being flown in a helicopter from the police lines complex in Panchkula.
Both Charanpreet and Amarpreet are married to men given really fancy names by Baba Ram Rahim. Charanpreet's sons are named Sweetluck Singh and Subah-e-Dil. The daughters have acted in his MSG series of films. The sons-in-law assist in managing the dera business. His son Jasmeet Insan ( a surname all his followers adopt) is married to a Punjab Congress MLA's daughter Husanmeet Kaur, now Insan.
Ram Rahim built a cave-themed palatial underground home in the dera where he would meditate and sexually exploit women. Based on the concept of harem in palaces, he would choose girls from among the devotees, make them surrender their bodies before him and these women would later remain in the dera and wait for being married off to male devotees who followed his orders like slaves or devotees do. These women were guarded by men allegedly neutered or castrated by the dera. This was not a secret. His private quarters were always guarded by his trusted gang of girls.
The rape, by the way, was called an act of pardon (maafi to be precise). Some women, as was later revealed, believed it was a blessing. But not all. The two women who testified against him had similar stories. The primary complainant, whose anonymous letter to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, became the basis of an FIR by CBI in 2002, told the CBI court that she was called by Pitaji (that's what they call him) into his gufa (cave) in the intervening night of August 28 and 29, 1999 for granting maafi (pardon). He threatened to kill her if she did not give in. The rape made her realise the reality of the dera. She complained to her brother, who revolted and escaped with her. He was later murdered.
The second complainant had grown up in the dera where her parents taught in a school. She was guarding the cave residence of the guru. He called her and she went in. The so-called Pitaji was in bed, apparently naked. She was shocked and tried running away. But it was too late. Nobody came to help her. She was raped. She managed to escape later. She lived to tell her story to the CBI court.
There are scores of other women who have remained silent out of fear or hopelessness. While the man loved his daughters and married them off to a life in luxury, his victims, who he called daughters, but treated like slaves have to live lives without dignity.
We are considered pious but we live as prostitutes: Read full text of Sadhvi's letter that nailed Ram Rahim
IndiaToday.in | Edited by Prabhash K Dutta
New Delhi, August 26, 2017 | UPDATED 18:14 IST
Read the full text of the letter anonymously written by the sadhvi who had been raped by Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim. This letter led to conviction of Ram Rahim 15 years later.
Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim has been boastful of his political connections and absolute power. He used to tell his followers that he was the most powerful and equal to God.
Ram Rahim unleashed a reign of terror at the Dera Sacha Sauda. But, a letter, written anonymously by a sadhvi, brought the Dera empire of Gurmeet Ram Rahim down.
Fifteen years after the letter was written, addressed to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Gurmeet Ram Rahim was convicted by a CBI court. Ram Rahim is currently lodged in the Rohtak jail in Haryana.
Here is the full text of the letter which made the mighty godman of Dera Sacha Sauda crumble and lose his empire:
Honourable Prime Minister
Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Government of India)
Subject: Request for probe into rape of hundreds of girls by Dera chief (Ram Rahim)
I am a girl hailing from Punjab and I have been serving as a sadhvi at Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa (Haryana) for the last five years. There are hundreds of other girls, who serve for 16-18 hours a day at the Dera. We are being physically exploited here. Dera Maharaj Gurmeet Singh rapes girls at the Dera. I am a graduate girl. My family members are blind followers of Maharaj (Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh). I became a sadhvi at my family's bidding.
Two years after I became a sadhvi, Maharaj Gurmeet Singh's close woman-disciple Gurjot told me one night around 10 pm that I had been summoned to 'Gufa' (residence of Gurmeet Ram Rahim). As I was going there for the first time, I was elated that God himself had sent out for me. When I went upstairs, I saw Maharaj sitting on the bed holding a remote control in hand and watching a blue film on TV. Beside his pillow on the bed, lay a revolver. Seeing all this, I was stunned, felt dizziness, and felt as if the earth has moved from beneath my feet. I wondered what at all was happening here.
I had never imagined that Maharaj would be such a person. Maharaj switched off the TV and seated me beside him. He offered me water and said that he had called me because he considered me very dear to him. This was my first day (experience).
Maharaj took me in his arms and said that he loved me from the core of his heart. He also said that he wanted to make love with me. He told me that at the time of becoming his disciple, I had dedicated my wealth, body and soul to him and he had accepted my offering. By this logic, your body is mine now.
When I objected he said, "There is no doubt that I am God." When I asked if God also indulges in such acts, he shot back:
1. Sri Krishna too was God and he had 360 gopis (milkmaids) with whom he staged Prem Lila (love drama). Even then people regarded him as God. This is not a new thing.
2. I can kill you with this revolver and cremate you here. The members of your family are my devoted followers and they have such blind faith in me that they are my slaves. You know it very well that your family members cannot go against me.
3. I have considerable influence in the governments. The chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana, and central Ministers touch my feet. Politicians seek my support and take money from me. They cannot take any action against me. We will get your family members dismissed from government jobs. I will get them killed and wouldn't leave any evidence behind. You know it very well that I had got Dera manager Fakir Chand killed earlier. No one knows anything about him till date. Neither there is any evidence of the murder. By money power, I can buy politicians, police and justice.
Thus, he raped me. For the past three months, my turn comes every 25-30 days. Now, I realise that he has been raping other girls staying with him.
Around 35-40 women living at the Dera are over 35-40 years old and past the marriageable age. They have compromised with their lives at the Dera. Most of the girls are educated and have secured BA, MA, B.Ed degrees. But they are living a life of hell at the Dera because their family members are fanatic followers. We wear white clothes, cover heads with scarf, forbidden to look at men and keep a distance of 5-10 feet from men as per Maharaj's commands.
We appear like devis (pious women), but our situation is that of prostitutes. I tried once to tell my family members that all was not well at the Dera. But, they got angry with me saying that if God's company is not worth enjoying then which place would be. It seems your mind has become corrupt, recite the name of satguru (the real teacher), they told me. I am helpless. I have to obey every command of the Maharaj.
No girl is permitted to talk to another. As per the commands of the Maharaj, girls are not permitted to talk to their families even over telephone. If a girl talks about the reality of the Dera, she is punished under the commands of the Maharaj. Just a few days ago, a Bathinda girl spoke about the wrongdoings of the Maharaj, she was thrashed by women-disciples. She is still bed-ridden at her home due to this assault. Her father has left his service as a sevadar (servant of Dera). She is not telling anyone anything for the fear of Maharaj.
Similarly, a girl from Kurukshetra district has also left the Dera and went back home. When she narrated her sufferings at the Dera to her family, her brother who worked as a sevadar, gave up his job. When a Sangrur girl left the Dera, went home and narrated the wrongdoings at the Dera to her relatives, the Dera's armed sewadar hooligans visited the girl's home and threatened to kill her. They warned her not to tell anyone anything about the Dera.
Similarly, girls from Mansa, Ferozepur, Patiala and Ludhiana districts (of Punjab) have gone back home and are keeping mum as they have threat to their lives. Same is the fate of girls from Sirsa, Hissar, Fatehabad, Hanumangarh and Meerut who are not uttering a word due to muscle power of the Dera goondas.
If I reveal my name (and) my address, my family and I will be killed. I can't keep quiet and I also don't want to die, but I want to expose the reality (of Dera). If a probe is conducted by the press or some government agency, 40 to 45 girls – living in utmost fear at the Dera – if they are convinced, are willing to tell the truth.
Our medical examination should be conducted so that our guardians and the people would know whether we are still celibate disciples or not. If we are no longer virgins, it should be probed as to who violated our chastity. The truth will then come out that Maharaj Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of Sacha Sauda has ruined our lives.
How rich is the Dera outfit?
The main gate of the Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa. Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has been convicted in a rape case. (HT Photo / Manoj Dhaka)
Saying that the outfit is very rich would be an understatement. Its headquarters (700 acres) in Sirsa has a sprawling compound which also houses a multi-specialty hospital, a stadium, a bevy of luxury vehicles. Since the organisation is listed as an NGO, it is exempt from taxes under Income Tax Act’s Section 10(23).
Other than acres of immovable assets spread across Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, the outfit also boasts of strong political connections.
Today, the Government has instructed banks to seal all his bank accounts.