The Sirsa-based dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim is surrounded by controversy again. This time it’s because of his film ‘MSG: Messenger of God’. The controversy erupted when former chairperson of Censor Board, Leela Samson, resigned after the film was cleared by the Film Certificate Tribunal Appellate on Thursday. Samson had accused the information and broadcasting ministry of stifling her functioning by meddling in "every new film being released, big and small". Following on the same lines another board member Ira Bhaskar tendered her resignation on Friday.
Meanwhile, massive protests were being held in Haryana, Punjab and the Capital against the film.
Here we give you a list of controversies that have surrounded the dera head over the years.
1. Conflict with Sikhs: Dera head found himself amidst controversy in May 2007, when he was accused of hurting the religious sentiments of the Sikhs. Certain Sikh organisations accused Gurmeet Ram Rahim of wearing attire in an advertisement, resembling the tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. This was followed by various clashes and attacks on the dera members. The dera head was also attacked. A criminal case filed against him, in this case, was dismissed in 2009.
2. Death of journalist Ram Chander Chattrapati: The dera head is a prime suspect in the murder of a journalist with a newspaper Poora Sach. Chattrapati was shot at on October 24, 2002, for allegedly writing about the illegal activities going inside the dera. The case is still pending in a CBI special court.
3. Rape Charges: Another controversy involving the dera head erupted when a letter alleging the dera head of rape reached the office of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. A sadhvi at the dera had accused the baba of rape. The matter was taken up by the Punjab and Haryana high court and was handed over to the CBI for probe. Related to this case is the murder of Ranjit Singh. Ranjit Singh was shot in the head on July 10, 2002, allegedly by dera followers in Kurukshetra. The CBI alleges that Ranjit was killed as Ram Rahim suspected him to be behind an anonymous letter of a sadhvi (female follower) who levelled allegations of sexual exploitation against him.
4. Castration of 400 followers: Recently, the dera head have been accused of forcing castration of around 400 followers. The investigation began after one of his devotees claimed to have been manipulated into undergoing the "painful" operation on the pretext of attainment of union with God via the dera head. The CBI, which was directed to probe the case by the Punjab and Haryana high court, has booked the dera head. According to the CBI, the castration was done to safeguard sadhvis (female full-time followers) from possible sexual advances.
5. Illegal weapons at the Dera: The dera head came under the scanner of the Punjab and Haryana high court after the Rampal case. The court had ordered that activities at the dera should be periodically monitored after reports of arms training at the dera. The high court opined that training of private commandos and arming them with illegal weapons to protect some individuals would definitely pose a challenge “not only to the judiciary, but also to the State”.