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Dera stopped police from properly probing woman’s disappearance in 2015

Woman was last seen at Dera Sacha Sauda’s Sirsa ashram. Court documents show police closed her case after Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s staff denied access to his private accommodation.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2017 12:04 IST
Deep Mukherjee
Deep Mukherjee
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
gurmeet ram rahim singh,dera sacha sauda,ram rahim rape case
Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was taken to a prison in Rohtak on Friday in a helicopter after being convicted of rape, which triggered rioting from his followers. (PTI photo)

Rajasthan police closed an investigation into the alleged kidnapping of a 24-year-old woman after the security team of controversial cult leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh denied them access to the ashram in Haryana where the victim was last seen.

Court documents accessed by Hindustan Times show that Singh’s staff refused to cooperate with police, citing his Z-plus security privileges to refuse access to the cult leader’s personal accommodation.

The findings suggest the Dera Sacha Sauda cult and its leader Singh have remained beyond the reach of law enforcement agencies for some time now. Last week, the cult’s followers ran riot in Haryana and Punjab after their leader was convicted of rape. The unrest led to the deaths of 36 people as police opened fire to stop rampaging mobs that burned down government and private property, including railways stations.

Guddi Devi has been missing since she disappeared at the Sirsa ashram in March, 2015. Her husband first approached the local police station in Sirsa, which denied his request to file a case.

Her husband then filed a case in Rajasthan, alleging that Devi had been ushered inside by associates of Singh and never seen again.

Guddi Devi, 24, was ushered into the ashram by Singh’s followers in March 2015 after which she was never seen again. (HT photo)

In August 2015, a team from Jaipur police went to the ashram in Haryana.

“When the staff of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was asked to show his personal accommodation, they expressed their inability to let us inspect it on pretext of Z-plus security cover given to Singh,” the official progress report of the investigation, submitted by the police in court, reads.

“The godman’s men denied the team entry to his personal accommodations for inspection purposes... During our search at the Ashram premises, we also felt that the staff didn’t fully cooperate with us,” a senior police official told HT on condition of anonymity.

The team had also questioned Singh himself, who denied having any knowledge of the whereabouts of the missing woman.

“The staff knew that we will come to search the premises and it appeared that they might have done some tampering,” the official added.

The police report states the ashram staff didn’t show the officials many of their official records claiming that they were too old.

Since then, the police have submitted a final report in the case citing its inability to carry out the investigation because of jurisdiction issues.

Currently, the counsel of Devi’s husband has challenged the final report in the court asking for the investigation to be reopened.

Babulal Bairwa, the advocate of Devi’s husband Kamlesh Kumar, told HT that after the woman went missing, Kumar had gone to the police in Sirsa but they refused to lodge an FIR.

The Jaipur police too, didn’t make any efforts to grant permission from authorities to search the personal accommodation of the godman and conceded defeat after their first attempt was thwarted by Singh’s men.

“We analysed the CCTV footages of the ashram but couldn’t find any sign of the missing woman. She wasn’t seen going to the personal accommodation of Singh and that’s why we didn’t make further efforts to search the personal area,” said deputy commissioner of police, east, Kunwar Rashtradeep.

Devi’s two little children still wait for their mother.

First Published: Aug 28, 2017 10:08 IST