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Rape case: Of 150 sadhvis contacted by CBI, only 2 ‘dared’ depose against dera head

Many female disciples reportedly told the CBI that the dera head and his followers were ‘dangerous people’, and speaking out against them could pose a risk to their lives.

chandigarh Updated: Aug 25, 2017 09:19 IST
Surender Sharma
Surender Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Dera Sacha Sauda,Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh,Rape Case
Followers of Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim gather at the sect’s Sirsa headquarters on Thursday, a day before the CBI court is expected to deliver its verdict. (Manoj Dhaka /HT photo)

The CBI contacted as many as 150 women followers of the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda in a probe extending over five years before finally filing a charge sheet that accused sect head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of sexual exploitation in 2007.

And yet, only two of them agreed to depose against the dera head in a case that is expected to conclude before a CBI special court in Panchkula on Friday.

A possible reason for this can be found in the 25-page charge sheet filed before the court, where it quotes several sadhvis (female disciples) as saying that they feared speaking out because the dera chief, its management and followers are “dangerous people”.

“Investigations conducted by the CBI discloses that Gurmeet Ram Rahim... raped (sadhvi X) in August 1999 and thereafter in 2000 and (she was told) under threat of dire consequences to her and her brother to refrain from disclosing anything about the incident to anybody. Further, Gurmeet Ram Rahim... also raped (sadhvi Y) on the dera premises in September 1999 and threatened her with dire consequences if she informed anybody. Thus, Ram Rahim committed offences punishable under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code,” the CBI document stated.

It had listed 28 prosecution witnesses, including investigating officers and judicial officers, and 14 supporting documents were appended.

The charge sheet stated that though the 130 female disciples contacted at the dera initially declined to open up, a few relented in the days that followed. “As many as 24 of the sadhvis who left the dera between 1997 and 2002 were contacted. Of them, we managed to trace 18 and examine them. Three had returned to the dera, and another three could not be traced,” the CBI said.

The two former disciples who eventually deposed against the dera head were among the 18 who left.

The CBI cited the lie-detection test reports of three accused – Avtar Singh, Inder Sain and Krishan Lal – as crucial evidence because there were discrepancies in their accounts. “The polygraph test of the accused, conducted at the Central Forensic Laboratory in Chandigarh and New Delhi, showed deception in their statements, indicating that the dera chief was sexually exploiting ‘sadhvis’... and the complainant was also sexually exploited,” the 2007 charge sheet read.

All the three were part of the dera chief’s inner circle.

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First Published: Aug 25, 2017 09:17 IST