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Ram Rahim’s native village in Rajasthan vows to maintain peace after Panchkula verdict

The villagers say they are upset over the court verdict that held the self-styled godman guilty of raping two women, but they will seek justice through legal means.

india Updated: Aug 25, 2017 22:48 IST
Aparnesh Goswami
Aparnesh Goswami
Hindustan Times, Bikaner
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh,Dera Sacha Sauda,Controversial godman
Followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim went on a rampage after the conviction of the self-styled godman in a rape case on Friday. (PTI Photo )

The native village of self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in Rajasthan’s Sriganganagar district maintained peace even as his followers elsewhere went on a rampage after the conviction of the spiritual head of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect in a rape case.

Even as supporters of Singh ran amok in five northern states, including Rajasthan, after a court on Friday found him guilty of raping two women at the headquarters of his sect in 2002, residents of Gursar Modia village shunned violence.

The verdict was pronounced in a 2002 rape case by a special CBI court at Panchkula in neighbouring Haryana.

They said they would take legal recourse to “seek justice” for the controversial 50-year-old godman, also known as “guru in bling” for his penchant for flashy clothes and jewellery.

“We have decided to respect the court verdict and gave our words to police and administration that we will maintain peace in the village,” Suchha Singh, a classmate of the flamboyant godman, told the HT.

He claimed that the Dera chief, who never even harmed an animal, could not commit rape. “We are unable to believe he could rape anyone. But we will fight our battle legally not through violence,” he added.

At least 30 people were killed in violence that erupted after the court verdict.

A PTI report said a vehicle was set on fire by a group of unidentified people in Sriganganagar town. Sriganganagar district collector Gyana Ram said it was yet to be ascertained whether the incident was in reaction to the conviction of the self-styled godman.

But not even a stone was pelted in his ancestral village.

Singh was born in Gursar Modia village, some 40 kilometres from Sriganganagar district headquarters, and studied there up to Class 10.

He left the village when he was 24 to join the quasi-religious sect, which has its headquarters at Sirsa in Haryana.

The village with around 300 households today boast of a 100-bed hospital, a school and a college for girls, a secondary school for boys and a stadium built by the Dera chief.

Krishna Kumar, station house officer of Suratgarh Sadar police station, who is camping at the village, said he met Singh, who is reverently referred to as ‘baba’ by the villagers, once last year.

“He takes good care of his native village,” the police officer said.

The controversial godman owns a plot of agricultural land in the village. His cousin Gurbaksh Singh, a retired schoolteacher and his son Gurdev Singh still live there.

“Baba always helped the villagers as he treated us as his family. He built a girls’ collage and a modern sports stadium here. We are very disappointed with the court’s verdict, but we respect the rule of law,” a villager, Prem Kumar, told HT.

The villagers remained steadfast to their commitment towards maintaining peace even after a group of Dera disciples approached them asking them to protest the verdict and organise a nam-charcha, a religious congregation.

“We had decided to remain calm and sober and we kept our promise,” village sarpanch Harpreet Singh said.

First Published: Aug 25, 2017 22:48 IST