Parole plea of Dera Sacha Sauda head a complex riddle for Haryana government
The parole plea of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the incarcerated head of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda sect, is fraught with complications in view of the recent killing of an undertrial Dera follower in Punjab’s Nabha jail and the upcoming assembly elections in Haryana. Ram Rahim, in his plea to get a temporary release from the prison, had cited the need to carry out agricultural activity on his farm land.
A formal communication with regards to his parole plea was sent by the Rohtak district jail superintendent to Sirsa deputy commissioner on June 18, seeking the latter’s advice and specific recommendation on whether it would be appropriate to grant temporary parole or not to Ram Rahim.
His chances of getting a temporary release from the prison rest entirely with the Rohtak divisional commissioner who will finally decide his parole request. The divisional commissioner is the statutory authority empowered to exercise the powers of the state government in deciding parole requests for convicts sentenced for murder, dacoity, rape with murder, dowry death and offences under Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
Difficulties in parole plea
But before the divisional commissioner decides his plea, the recommendations of Sirsa deputy commissioner will be crucial. The Sirsa administration has carried out an exercise to ascertain the appropriateness of Ram Rahim’s request. Sirsa superintendent of police Arun Singh said two police teams accompanied by revenue officials did a reality check on the Dera farm land. “We will communicate our findings to the deputy commissioner,” Singh said without revealing the findings.
The Haryana Good Conduct Prisoners (temporary release) Act says that a prisoner may be temporarily released if the state government is satisfied that his release is necessary for ploughing, sowing or harvesting or carrying on any other agricultural operation of his land or his father’s undivided land actually in the possession of the prisoner.
“The Dera has plenty of able-bodied persons who cultivate the farm land. Who cultivated the land last year? Whether Ram Rahim is actually the owner of the land as per the revenue records? All these aspects would be examined in recommending parole to Ram Rahim,” said a top official at Chandigarh.
The issue of granting parole to the sect head is not an ordinary one. Top officials are deliberating the complications associated with releasing him temporarily. “There are complexities associated with his temporary release. In light of the killings of an undertrial Dera follower in Punjab, Ram Rahim’s presence in Sirsa could provoke Dera followers. What if he holes up inside the Dera headquarters and a Rampal-kind of an operation becomes necessary to get his custody. Can the state government afford this at a time when assembly polls are not too far away,” said a police official.
The Punjab and Haryana high court had in May rejected Ram Rahim’s parole plea for attending the wedding ceremony of his foster daughters. The dera chief was confined to Rohtak’s Sunaria jail in August, 2017, after he was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment by a CBI court for the rape for his two disciples. In January 2019, he was sentenced to life for murdering a journalist, Ram Chander Chhatrapati. He is also facing trial in two more cases – murder of a dera follower, Ranjit Singh, and castration of sect followers.
Bittu Killing Impact in Sirsa
Meanwhile, Sirsa deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Rajesh Kumar said the police was keeping a heightened vigil in view of the killing of undertrial dera follower Mohinder Pal Bittu in Punjab. He said that nakas have been put up at roads leading to the dera headquarters and vehicles were being checked.
Haryana jails minister Krishan Lal Panwar said, “He (Ram Rahim) has applied for parole, which he is entitled to. There is a procedure involved. The Sirsa Police will prepare its report and submit it to the deputy commissioner.”