Even as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has booked Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda’s chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and others to probe castration allegations, the affidavits submitted in the Punjab and Haryana high court by seven dera followers – who claimed to have been castrated of their own will -- have come under the scanner.
Those who filed the affidavits in 2014 include three who are co-accused, along with Ram Rahim, in the 2002 murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati. These dera followers drew the high court’s rap after they refused to undergo a medical examination. In most of these affidavits, the names of the doctors who performed the operations, and also the hospitals, are not mentioned.
The court had in December last year ordered a CBI probe into the allegations, saying that the castration couldn’t be termed as an act of ‘humanity’ even if the followers had given their consent to it.
“Would you allow cutting the head if someone offers the same,” the court had said while hearing the petition filed in 2012
by Hans Raj Chauhan (34), a former dera follower. According to the complainant, about 400 followers had undergone castration in 2000 after the dera head ‘falsely’ promised that it would lead to “union with God through their spiritual master.”
I was brainwashed: petitioner
Hans Raj Chauhan, a native of Tohana in Fatehabad district, said he stayed on the dera premises from 1996 till 2009-end, working as a musician for the dera chief. He claimed, “Those dera sadhus were castrated who had access to the hostel of sadhvis (female devotees) or female members of the dera head’s family.”
Chauhan said he was brainwashed that castration was a small operation which would lead him to God through his spiritual master. “My operation took place at Gursar Modiya village of Ganganagar district (Rajasthan), 120km from Sirsa, in 2000. It was three days later that I realised its effect on my body.”
“There are two hospitals of the sect where such operations took place from 2000 onwards. One is at the Sirsa dera and the other at Ram Rahim’s native place, Gursar Modiya,” he said. When asked who conducted his operation, he said Dr M.P Singh did it on the directions of the dera chief, while another doctor, Pankaj Garg, was also involved.
On why he waited for 12 years before lodging a complaint, he said he feared for his life as anyone who dared to raise his voice against the dera was eliminated.
Chauhan left the dera in 2009 and filed his petition in 2012 after collecting evidence and hiring a lawyer to fight his case. His medical examination, conducted on the directions of the high court, found that he was castrated. Currently, he runs a music academy at Tohana.
Witness claims he saw operations
Farmer Gurdas Singh Toor (41), a former dera follower, deposed himself as a witness in the castration case against Ram Rahim. Talking to HT, he claimed that he was asked to undergo castration on the pretext of God’s realisation in 2000, but the dera backed out after finding out that his father was a police inspector.
“I worked in the dera’s printing press from 1996 to 2002. There was a makeshift hospital above the press where two doctors, MP Singh and Pankaj Garg, used to perform castrations,” he said.
“The sadhus who were operated upon were seen with dressing on their private parts for several days,” Toor claimed.
He said he ended his association with the dera after journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati’s murder. “I was looking for an opportune time to speak up against ram Rahim. When Hans Raj Chauhan filed his petition, I volunteered to become a witness in the case,” Toor added.
Dera devotee’s testes found removed
According to the post-mortem report of Vinod Kumar (25), a dera follower who shot himself dead on the Sirsa court premises in 2011, his testes were found removed. The day Vinod shot himself, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had appeared in the Sirsa court for a hearing held through videoconferencing by the CBI court in Panchkula. The hearing pertained to the Ram Chander Chhatrapati murder case.
According to the report (HT has a copy), there were burn scars on the private parts of Vinod’s body.
Charges baseless, says dera
Dera Sacha Sauda spokesperson Dr Aditya Insan said the castration allegations were baseless. He wondered why petitioner Hans Raj Chauhan took so long to lodge a complaint. On the controversies surrounding the dera chief, Dr Aditya said these were the handiwork of the drug mafia, having the patronage of some political parties, who were up in arms against the dera as it asked followers to stay away from drugs.