Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, whose supporters went on the rampage in Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan to protest the court verdict convicting him of rape, haD enjoyed the patronage and support of the BJP government in Haryana as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On October 29, 2014, Mr. Modi lauded the Dera chief for he Swachh Bharat (clean India) mission. “Appreciable effort by Baba Ram Rahim ji & his team. Will motivate people across India to join Swachch Bharat Mission,” he had tweeted.
Modi condemns violence
On Friday, Mr. Modi put out a series of tweets condemning the violence in Haryana. “The instances of violence today are deeply distressing, I strongly condemn the violence and urge everyone to maintain peace. The law and order situation is being closely monitored. I reviewed the situation with NSA & Home Secretary. Urged officials to work round-the-clock to restore normality and provide all possible assistance that is required,” he said in his tweets.
The Dera chief supported the BJP in the 2014 Assembly elections and Haryana Chief Minister M.L. Khattar’s association with the self-appointed cult leader is an open secret. On May 6, Mr. Khattar launched a special cleanliness drive with the Dera chief at his constituency in Karnal.
Known for flashy clothes and producing films where he is the main protagonist, the Dera chief has held ‘success parties’ where senior BJP leaders like Kailash Vijayvargiya and Manoj Tiwari were present.
The website of Dera Sacha Sauda says it’s a “spiritual organisation” and the sect has a huge following among Dalit Sikhs.
Haryana’s Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said last week that the Dera followers were peace-loving people. A few months ago he handed a cheque for ₹51 lakh to the Dera chief as a mark of support. A year ago, Health and Sports Minister Anil Vij drew flak from the Congress for donating ₹50 lakh to the Dera chief.