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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

Rape trial, castration of followers: Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is no stranger to controversies

From starring in his own movie MSG to castration of followers, here’s a list of controversies Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is embroiled in.

punjab Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:52 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. (Shivam Saxena/HT File Photo)

A CBI special court in Haryana is likely to pronounce its verdict on Friday in the rape trial against Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Singh had been accused of raping a woman followed and the case was registered in 2002.

From starring in his own movie to castration of followers, here’s a list of controversies Singh is embroiled in:

MSG: Messenger of God

Former chairperson of Censor Board Leela Samson resigned after Singh’s film was cleared by the Film Certificate Tribunal Appellate in January 2015. Samson had accused the information and broadcasting ministry of stifling her functioning by meddling in “every new film being released, big and small”. Another board member Ira Bhaskar tendered her resignation after Samson.

The film featured the self-styled spiritual leader as a swashbuckling hero in bejewelled costume riding motorbikes and sending bad guys flying. Singh wrote and co-directed the film, besides singing and composing its music.

Hurting religious sentiments

In May 2007, Sikh organisations accused Singh of hurting their religious sentiments after his outfit in an adverstisement resembled the attire of the tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. Following clashes, a criminal case was filed against Singh but it was dismissed in 2009.

Suspect in murder case

Singh was the prime suspect in the murder of a journalist with a newspaper Poora Sach. Ram Chander Chattrapati was shot at on October 24, 2002, for allegedly writing about the illegal activities in the sect. The case is still pending in a CBI special court.

Rape charges

A sadhvi who was a member of the Dera Sacha Sauda accused Singh of rape. The case registered in 2002 was taken up by the Punjab and Haryana high court but it was later handed over to the CBI.

The controversy deepened after a man was allegedly shot dead by Dera followers in July the same year as he was suspected to be behind an anonymous letter to the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee which levelled the sexual assault charges on Singh.

In the letter, the sadhvi said she was asked to go into Baba’s room late one night. The Baba, she wrote, was sitting on the bed. A pornographic film was playing on the TV and a revolver was lying near the bed. Baba then raped her and the rapes continued for the next three years. The sadhvi also said 35-40 others were exploited like her.

Barricades outside Dera Sacha Sauda branch at Salabatpura in Bathinda.
Barricades outside Dera Sacha Sauda branch at Salabatpura in Bathinda. ( Sanjeev Kumar/HT File Photo )

Castration of followers

The dera head was accused of forcing castration of around 400 followers in 2014. The investigation began after one of his devotees claimed to have been manipulated into undergoing the “painful” operation on the pretext of attainment of union with God. A case was booked against him and according to the CBI, which was directed to probe the case by the Punjab and Haryana HC, the castration was done to safeguard sadhvis (women followers) from possible sexual advances.

Illegal weapons

Singh again came under the scanner in December 2014 after the Punjab and Haryana HC ordered that activities of the sect should be periodically monitored after reports of arms training at the Dera. The court opined that training of private commandos and arming them with illegal weapons to protect some individuals would definitely pose a challenge “not only to the judiciary, but also to the State”.

(This article was first published by HT in January 2015)

First Published: Aug 23, 2017 11:27 IST

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