Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh: From 'baba of the bling' to rape convict

Evidence that nailed Ram Rahim: CBI

Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. File photo

Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. File photo  

Corroborative statements of two rape victims and their relatives, besides adverse lie-detection test results of three close associates of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and other circumstantial evidence, proved crucial in his conviction by the Special CBI court in Panchkula, 15 years after the case was registered.

The charge-sheet filed in the case reveals that given the influence wielded by Ram Rahim, it was not an easy investigation for the CBI.

Taking cognisance of an anonymous letter, alleging sexual exploitation of girls by the Dera Sucha Sauda chief, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had in May 2002 directed the District and Sessions Judge (Sirsa) to probe. However, the judge found that no one was willing to speak up. Not ruling out the possibility, the judge recommended a central agency investigation and therefore, on the High Court directive, the CBI registered the case on December 12, 2002.

2 of 130 speak out

In 2005, the agency managed to get a list of residents at the dera, revealing that 53 “Sadhvis” lived in the girls’ hostel and 80 in the Dera Sacha Sauda’s Sirsa ashram, while 24 others had left by then. The agency contacted 130 girls, who declined to cooperate owing to “an atmosphere of fear and physical, mental and spiritual control of Baba Gurmeet Singh”.

Of the 24 “Sadhvis” who had left the Dera between 1997 and 2002, 20 were traced. Most of them were married and did not want to come out with the truth, fearing adverse consequences.

The CBI examined 18 girls who had left the ashram, some of who said the Dera chief, its management and his followers were “very dangerous people” and they feared for their lives if they spoke up.

It was in May-July 2006 that the CBI managed to convince two victims to share complete information. They gave a detailed account of what was happening inside the Dera chief’s rooms and what transpired to them in August 1999. One of them recorded her statement under Section 164 of the Cr.PC in March 2007.

As described by the victims, there was an old and a new Dera complex in the ashram, where Ram Rahim had a separate accommodation called the Gufa (cave)”.

The Gufa in the old Dera had three gates, two of which opened towards the area where Satsang was held, whereas the third gate opened towards the girls’ hostel,” said the charge-sheet. The “Sadhvis” would guard the entry door to the cave between 8 p.m. to midnight and midnight to 4 a.m., taking turns.

Ram Rahim would allegedly summon the “Sadhvis” into his cave and then force himself upon them. Narrating her woes, one victim said one night, Ram Rahim called her to his cave.

“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 about her life and experience in the Dera…thereafter, Gurmeet Singh started fondling her body,” alleged the charge-sheet. She was then raped.

The victim’s father told the CBI that her sister had also been sexually exploited by Ram Rahim. A relative of another victim also recorded his statement.

Investigations into the murder of local journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati, who had published the anonymous letter in his newspaper, and a former Dera follower also had a bearing on the probe into rape allegations, said the CBI.

The former follower’s close relative was also a “Sadhvi” in the Dera, but she later left it. His father told the agency that after the anonymous complaint surfaced, his son had confirmed to him that the allegations were correct and that Ram Rahim and his close associates suspected that he was behind the letter. The former follower was later gunned down.

The adverse lie-detection tests of accused Avtar Singh, Inder Sain and Krishan Lal, whose names came up during the probe, showed “deceptions” in their statements indicating that Ram Rahim was sexually exploiting the “Sadhvis” in the “Gufa”, alleged the charge-sheet.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2020 3:25:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/evidence-that-nailed-ram-rahim-cbi/article19567218.ece

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