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Ram Rahim sentencing: Finally, justice for a family battling against Dera chief

Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted by a CBI court in Panchkula in a rape case. A woman whose daughter was one of the two women raped by the self-styled godman speaks about the Dera.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2017 16:14 IST
Manraj Grewal Sharma
Manraj Grewal Sharma
Hindustan Times, Kurukshetra
Ram Rahim,Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh,Dera Sacha Sauda
The main gate of the Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa. Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has been convicted in a rape case. (HT Photo / Manoj Dhaka)

“It took a long time, I had stopped believing in justice,” said the 73-year-old mother of one of the women raped by Gurmeet ram Rahim, when she heard of his conviction on Friday. The news of his 10 -year jail term on Monday would perhaps restore a sense of justice.

The old woman with hazel eyes is the matriarch of a family that dared to take on the dera chief, whose thousands-strong followers brought Haryana and Punjab to a standstill in clashes that left 30 people dead. Her daughter was one of the two women raped by the self-styled leader, and her only son was allegedly killed by his followers who suspected him of circulating a letter detailing the sexual exploitation in 2002.

The family used to be ardent supporters of the 50-year-old convicted leader – the brother was a part of the convicted leader’s inner circle -- but dissociated themselves soon after learning about the rape.

“This ruling has restored our faith in justice, I only wish papaji was here to see this day,” the brother’s wife says, wiping a tear. She remembers her father-in-law who was the village chief for 35 years and passed away last year after tirelessly fighting against Singh in court.

She remembers her husband’s dedication to the Dera. “A staunch devotee, he’d even got a room built for the dera chief on the first floor,” she says, recounting how Singh used to camp in their house with his entourage. But later, her husband regretted wasting the prime years of life at the dera, she recalls.

The anonymous letter led the Dera to suspect the brother, following which emissaries of Singh allegedly threatened him. Two months later on July 10, he was found murdered in the fields. He was 42.

It wasn’t an easy battle. “My son was only seven, my younger daughter was 12 and my elder one had just got engaged when he was killed,” the brother’s wife tears up. The family has lost count of the threats it received. “So many times, we were followed by vehicles,” says the rape victim’s brother-in-law.

Other family members say the police attempted to divide the family by blaming some relatives for the murder. Some people even tried to lure them into dropping the charges with promises of jobs and money, they say.

The family says they tried to enlist the help of media but to no avail. “No one was ready to publish a word against the dera chief. I held press conferences in Chandigarh but not a word was reported,” fumes a family member.

One of the sisters recounted how her youngest sister, a sadhvi, had continued to work at the Dera to keep an eye on the two daughters of their brother.

The family knows it’s not the end of the battle. But they are banking on faith. As the brother’s wife sums it up, “It’s not easy, we are no match for the dera, but we won’t give up. After all, no one is above God.” Not even MSG, Messenger of God.

First Published: Aug 25, 2017 23:14 IST