Search ends in Ram Rahim’s Sirsa headquarters, mobile net and train services to resume tomorrow
Authorities in Haryana conducted searches at the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters near Sirsa town in the state for the third consecutive day on Sunday, with the whole operation finally ending in the eveningchandigarh Updated: Sep 10, 2017 20:35 IST
Haryana authorities concluded on Sunday a massive search in the sprawling 800-acre headquarters of the Dera Sacha Sauda, a quasi-religious sect whose chief is serving 20 years in prison for raping two woman disciples. (Highlights)
Curfew was clamped in Sirsa and mobile internet services were suspended when the search began on Friday with a large posse of state policemen and paramilitary troopers.
Government spokesperson Satish Mehra said internet and train services will resume from Monday.
“Over the past three days, search teams recovered a luxury car, huge quantities of firecrackers, a window-shaped tunnel from the spiritual leader’s home to a hostel for the sadhvis (woman devotees), plastic money, computers, hard disks and other items,” he said.
Over 5,000 police, paramilitary and civil administration personnel were deployed for the operation conducted on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court.
Among the items of interest was the flamboyant 50-year-old Dera chief’s pink and whacky mansion that has an upright extension shaped like a standing half-doughnut.
The building is called “baba’s gufa”, or cave, and it was out of bounds for everyone except his closest aides. This is where, his victims alleged, the sexual exploits took place. “The walls of the gufa are more than 30 feet tall … it has green lawn about 10 feet high from the surface. There are two paths. One goes directly to the basement and another to the guestrooms on the ground floor,” said a police officer who didn’t wish to be named.
“Expensive material is used to decorate the guestroom. The gufa walls are strong and cannot be damaged easily.”
Health officials detected irregularities in the Dera hospital such as illegally running a skin bank and allegedly conducting abortion of unwanted pregnancies.
But chief medical officer Govind Gupta refused comments on the allegations of the hospital breaching medical termination of pregnancy laws.
“We cannot comment on the search operation,” he said.
Other than the secret passage to the women’s hostel, a second tunnel lined with fibreglass was discovered that looked like an escape route opening out about 5km away.
An empty box of AK-47 rifle cartridges, 84 cartons of firecrackers and chemicals from the illegal factory, besides hundreds of pairs of shoes, designer clothing and caps, were also found.
Ram Rahim’s sprawling complex has a stadium, a hospital, schools and colleges, bungalows, markets and an ostentatious “7-star MSG resort” with replicas of the Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, Kremlin and Disney World.
Hundreds of people and sect followers permanently live and work in the mini-township.
The process is being videographed and overseen by retired district and sessions judge, AKS Pawar.
A quick-reaction team, anti-sabotage squad, bomb-disposal and forensic experts, bulldozers, tractors, locksmiths, and dog squads were called in to assist the comprehensive search.
The security measures were taken as Ram Rahim’s conviction in August led to large-scale violence in Panchkula and Sirsa, leaving 38 people dead and 264 wounded.
Government spokesperson Mehra said the revenue department has been asked to check the land records of the Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa.
There are allegations that the influential sect and its leadership had forced villagers to sell land at throwaway prices.
First Published: Sep 10, 2017 19:12 IST