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Dera chief no stranger to controversy

india Updated: Jun 26, 2008 00:37 IST
Harjinder Sidhu
Harjinder Sidhu
Hindustan Times
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Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and controversy seem to go hand in hand and his latest trouble is just another addition to an already long list.

He first attracted attention after an anonymous letter alleging sexual exploitation of women at his ashram came to light some more than six years ago. The matter was reported by several newspapers and a journalist of Sirsa-based newspaper Poora Sach Ram Chander Chhatrapati wrote extensively about the sect’s activities.

The Dera chief was also caught in a controversy in October 2002 after three of his followers were arrested for allegedly murdering journalist Chhatrapati. In December 2002, two more followers of the Dera were arrested in connection with the murder of Ranjit Singh, a former sarpanch of Khanpur Kolian village in Kurukshetra district. Ranjit was a member of the top hierarchy in the Dera before he quit the sect after an anonymous letter alleging sexual exploitation of women inmates at the Dera started circulating.

In November 2003, the CBI was directed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to investigate the murders of Chhatrapati and Ranjit Singh and probe the sexual exploitation charges. The cases are still pending in the CBI court at Ambala. Another case was registered against the Dera chief in Bathinda on May 20, 2007 for hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs.