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What nailed dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim in rape case

Damning statements by two former ‘sadhvis (female followers) at the Dera Sacha Sauda on their sexual abuse by Dera chief Ram Rahim between 1991 and 2001 formed the basis of his conviction in rape case.

punjab Updated: Aug 26, 2017 09:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan TImes, Chandigarh
Ram Rahim,Baba Ram Rahim,Dera Sacha Sauda news
A large number of women followers attending a religious congregation at the Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa .(HT FIle)

Damning statements by two former ‘sadhvis (female followers) at the Dera Sacha Sauda on their sexual abuse by the dera chief between 1991 and 2001 formed the basis of his conviction in rape case under Section 354 of the IPC.

Friday’s verdict brings curtains on a 15-year-old case that began with a CBI probe into an anonymous letter to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpaypee alleging sexual exploitation of ‘sadhvis’ at the Sirsa dera.

CBI traced 18 ex-sadhvis who had left the dera, and two of them, identified here as Sadhvi X and Sadhvi Y (as the law forbids identifying a rape victim), came forward with the testimony and stood by it during the decade-long trial.

CBI chargesheet graphically reveals their abuse, dera chief’s predatory sexual conduct and murky goings-on inside the dera. Excerpts:

Married disciple’s sexual exploitation

Sadhvi X had joined the dera in July 1999 and was accepted by Baba Gurmeet Singh. She started living in the New Dera. She stayed as a sadhvi (woman follower) in the dera till April 2001 after which she left it. She was married in October 2001 and has a child and is settled in life. She was examined on February 25, 2005, and stated that ‘Maharaj’ Gurmeet Singh used to stay in the gufa and sadhvis used to be put on sentry duty at the gufa in the old dera. She was also put on such sentry duty in a cycle of about 20 days in the night.

In the hostel, she came to know that sadhvis used to go to the gufa of ‘Maharaj’ Gurmeet Singh in the night one at a time. When she was on sentry duty at the gate of the gufa, she had seen two sadhvis (names withheld) going to the gufa of Maharaj Gurmeet Singh in the night. Later, one of the two sadhvis left the dera but before leaving she abused Maharaj Gurmeet Singh.

Sadhvi X said that Sadhvi Y was found weeping after returning from the gufa of Maharaj Gurmeet Singh. Next day, parents of Sadhvi Y and her sister came and took them away from the dera.

Rape of another sadhvi

On August 28 or 29 in 1999, at about 9 pm, a dera employee told Sadhvi X that Baba Gurmeet Singh had called her to the gufa. When she went there, she saw Baba Gurmeet Singh alone in the gufa. He told her to close the door and sit. When she sat on the floor, he asked her to sit on the bed near him. She hesitated, but on the insistence of Baba, she sat near Baba Gurmeet Singh on the bed. He asked her about her life and experience in the dera. Then he asked her about her earlier life and mistakes committed by her in life. He also showed her some letters written by a boy to her which had come to the dera and asked her about the said boy. She explained everything to the baba. On this, Baba Gurmeet Singh told her that now she need not worry about the boy as by becoming a sadhvi, she had given her mind and body in his (Baba’s) name. Thereafter, he kissed her forehead and started fondling her body. She protested but Baba Gurmeet Singh told her that he had the right over her body.

dera chief’s threat

She went on protesting and resisting, but Baba Gurmeet Singh threatened her and boasted that he had connections with big leaders and officers and could do whatever he wished and nobody could do anything to him. She told him that she and other sadhvis considered him as bhagwan, whereupon Baba Gurmeet Singh told her that if she considered him as bhagwan, then he had the right to her and everything of her, in spite of her continued protests, Baba Gurmeet Singh forcibly raped her. He also told her that by remaining in the outside world, she had become ‘apavitar’ and he was making her ‘pavitar’ and he had forgiven whatever mistakes she had committed. When she was coming out of the room, Baba Gurmeet Singh threatened her not to tell anything about the incident to anybody or otherwise it would not be good for her. She told him that she did not want to stay in the dera. After this incident, she was shifted from new dera to the old dera at the instance of Baba Gurmeet Singh.

repeated rape despite resistance

About a year after the first incident of rape on her, parbandhak Paramjit Kaur called her and told her that Baba Gurmeet Singh had called her to the gufa. She was scared due to the previous incident and refused to go to the gufa, but the parbandhak told her that if she did not go to the gufa, she would not get food from the langar. On repeated instructions from the parbandhak, she went to the gufa. When she reached the gufa, she saw Baba Gurmeet Singh at the door of the gufa. On seeing her, he went inside the gufa. When she entered the gufa, Baba Gurmeet Singh closed the door of the gufa and caught hold of her and started forcing himself on her. On this, she told him that if he did not leave her alone, she would shout. Baba Gurmeet Singh told her that her voice would not go out of the room and there was nobody nearby. She tried to get herself released from the clutches of the Baba and screamed and begged of Baba to let her go but to no avail and Baba forcibly raped her against her will and consent. When she was coming out of the gufa, Baba again, threatened her not to disclose about the rape to anybody otherwise it would not be good for her.

cbi records victim’s statement

Statement of Sadhvi Y of Fatehabad was recorded by CBI on 4.5.2006. Sadhvi Y of Fatehabad, ex-Sadhvi, joined the dera as a sadhvi in July 1998. She was teaching the children. Six months later, her sister also became a Sadhvi. When she became a Sadhvi, Maharaj Gurmeet Singh gave her the name ‘Nazam’ and her sister was given the name ‘Tasleem’.

She stated that there was a way from the Girls’ Hostel to the gufa of Maharaj Gurmeet Singh and Sadhvis used to be put on sentry duty at the entry door of the gufa. The duties used to be from 8 to 12 and then 12 to 4 in the morning. She also performed sentry duty in the night. When she was on such sentry duty, she had seen sadhvis going to the gufa of Maharaj and coming

out.

Once in September 1999, when she was on sentry duty in the night from 8 PM to 12 PM, Maharaj Gurmeet Singh called her inside the gufa at about 10.00 PM. At that time there was nobody there. She thought that Maharaj may have some work. She regarded Maharaj Gurmeet Singh as Bhagwan. Therefore, she went inside the gufa. Baba told her to sit on the bed near to him. She hesitated and tried to sit on the floor. But Maharaj asked her to sit on the bed. Accordingly, she sat on the bed by the side of Maharaj who asked her about her life and her experience in the Dera. Thereafter, Maharaj Gurmeet Singh started fondling her body. She told him not to do so, but Maharaj Gurmeet Singh forcibly took her in his arms and kissed her on the forehead. She tried to get herself released, but by force Maharaj held her as he was stronger than her.

Maharaj Gurmeet Singh forcibly removed her clothes and laid her on the bed and raped her. She kept on weeping. After raping her, Maharaj Gurmeet Singh sat on the bed. Weeping, she wore her clothes when Maharaj Gurmeet Singh threatened her not tell anything about the rape to anybody or otherwise it would not be good for her. Weeping, she came out of the gufa and went to the girls’ hostel. Her colleagues asked her the reason for her weeping, but she did not tell anything and kept on weeping. Her sister told her that day that she was also raped by Maharaj Gurmeet Singh. When her parents came for the Majlis next day, she told them about her rape and requested them to take her out of the Dera. Her parents took her and her sister from the Dera the same day

LIE-DETECTION TESTS

OF CO-ACCUSED

The polygraph/lie detection tests of accused Avtar Singh, Inder Sain and Krishan Lal (all dera officials) conducted at CFSL, Chandigarh and CFSL, New Delhi showed deceptions in their statements indicating that Maharaj Gurmeet Singh was sexually exploiting sadhvis in the gufa and Sadhvi X was also sexually exploited by Gurmeet Ram Rahim.

First Published: Aug 26, 2017 09:38 IST