Sirsa, Haryana (KP) – The past week has been a rather appalling one for the Sirsa based Dera Sacha Sauda Cult. The beginning caught everyone with surprise when the Punjab Police arrested, and soon after released, the cult leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim on bail of Rs.100,000 in the case of hurting the sentiments of the Sikh community.
The arrest was carried out in relation to a case that was filed against the Dera Chief in Bathinda in which he was blamed for trying to imitate Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth master of the Sikhs. Although the bail was sanctioned for Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the police officials confiscated his passport and some other paperwork. The formalities of the arrest and bail were carried out by Punjab Police Inspector Harvinder S. Virk along with Sub-Inspector Ram Singh.
The Punjab Police officers were accompanied by Police Officers from Ambala Sadar city of Ambala district of Haryana. The court case was filed against the dera chief by Rajinder Singh Sidhu, President of the local Khalsa Diwan, on May 20th under Section 295-A of the Indian Penal Code for imitating Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Although this trouble did not cause much harm to Gurmeet Ram Rahim, as all inquiries were carried out at his residence, the events afterwards shook the whole institution of Dera Sacha Sauda.
The real trouble began soon after when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed charges against the Dera Chief and other senior leaders in three cases this past Wednesday. The charges were leveled against the Dera Chief in two cases of murder and in one case of rape. According to reports that were submitted to the Punjab and Haryana high court, the CBI has found "concrete" evidence against the Dera Chief. Although the murder case also involves other members of the cult, Gurmeet Ram Rahim's name has appeared alone in the rape case.
Dera Sacha Sauda received a major setback when the personal driver of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, who is now in police protection, broke ties with the cult and testified in the Ranjit Singh (former cult member) murder case. According to driver Khatta Singh, the dera chief was the instigator of the murder plans.
Ranjit Singh, who at one time was a senior dera member, was shot dead when it was discovered that he had submitted some information to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee relating to the Dera Chief molesting and raping his sister, who too was a follower of the dera. In addition, the CBI also included 10 other testimonies and some forensic science evidence that suggests that the revolver used in Ranjit Singh's murder belonged to Kishan Lal, a senior official of the Dera.
The other murder case in which Gurmeet Ram Rahim's name is included is that of Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chatterpatti. Chatterpatti was murdered after he published details of the wrongdoings of the Dera Chief. This case also includes proof against other Dera cult leaders as well.
The third case of sexual harassment and rape is the strongest in respect to the evidence as one 33 year old "Sadhvi" personally testified in front of the CBI and alleged that the Dera Chief had personally molested her in 1999. According to the testimony of "Sadhvi," the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa is home to hundreds of women followers and from time to time, the Dera Chief abuses them to fulfill his lustful desires.
August 31st has been set as the date for the next hearing in this case. According to the CBI's standing counsel Rajan Gupta, the Dera Chief and others will have to be present during the court hearing or else the court will issue non-bailable warrants. It is believed that the Dera Chief will approach the High Court directly instead of appealing at the trial court.