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

Families torn apart in Haryana violence

Going back: Followers leave the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters at Sirsa in Haryana.

Nembo, 40, of Jind district in Haryana had come to Panchkula early last week to get a glimpse of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

On Friday, when a special CBI court pronounced the verdict convicting the Dera chief of raping two women, Nembo was killed allegedly in police firing outside the court premises.

She was among thousands of the Dera chief’s followers who had travelled from Punjab and Haryana to stand by their spiritual leader in case of an adverse verdict.

For 24 hours, her body lay unclaimed at the civil hospital in Panchkula even as her husband, a farmer, watched the violence unfold on the television set at their home in Jind.


Little did he know that his wife was among the 32 killed in alleged police firing in Panchkula, as she told them that she had gone to Sirsa. It was an identity card provided by Dera officials that finally helped police identify her body. The card was found in a green bag lying near her body.

“She used to go often to Sirsa, didn’t know she was in Panchkula. She was hit by a bullet in her back. Maybe she was running away, who knows? All this mayhem to protest the conviction of one man. So many people have been killed,” said Prem Singh, a close relative of Nembo.

Sitting under a tree, Haryana police officer Ajit Singh was busy making arrangements to hand over the bodies lying in the mortuary to their relatives. He said many families feared coming to the hospital to claim the bodies for the fear of being arrested on charges of being a Dera supporter.

A doctor who conducted the post mortem said most people died of injuries in the head, chest and abdomen.


The family of Manish Kumar, 21, of Karnal said: “He had told us he was going to Panchkula. His friends dragged him here. As soon as we watched the news on TV, we frantically started calling him. This was at 4 p.m. and continued to do so. At 8 p.m., his phone was dead. We left Karnal to look for him and after visiting three hospitals, today we found his body here,” said Parvesh, his maternal uncle.

“He was not a follower of Baba. What sort of a religious head incites such violence? The doctors did post mortem before we reached the hospital,” he said.

Boy killed

Among those killed was 16-year-old Lovepreet Bagga, who had come to visit his aunt in Panchkula. The boy was hit by a bullet in his left abdomen. A Punjab police official said he was not a follower of the Dera chief and was there among the protesters only out of curiosity.

Haryana DGP B.S. Sandhu said there were 38 casualties so far, out of which 32 died in Panchkula and six in Sirsa.

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Printable version | May 12, 2022 1:47:05 pm |