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

The calm streets of Sirsa villages

Feeding the forces:  Local people cooking for the security personnel during curfew in Sirsa on Monday.

Feeding the forces: Local people cooking for the security personnel during curfew in Sirsa on Monday.

A middle-aged woman lounging outside her house, a couple of children fighting over who will throw the next ball, and a bunch of elderly men taking drags on their hookah.

This is how the streets of Sirsa, where the headquarters of Dera Sacha Sauda is located, looked like on Monday, as opposed to the violence it witnessed on Friday.

While residents of the three villages closest to Dera — Bajekan, Begu, and Nezia Khera — heaved a sigh of relief, his supporters still waited for a miracle. Some, however, who were worried for their future employment.

Sitting outside a ‘pucca’ house at Bajekan, along with a few friends, 28-year-old Kashmir, a BA student, told The Hindu that he was sick of the autocratic ways of the Dera. “They would take out processions every now and then. They would block the way, not allowing normal commute. They would take the law in their hands,” he said.

Lal Chand, a daily wager and autorickshaw driver, said: “They grabbed villagers’ land by force. Over the years, they started compensating but one would have to part with land even if they were not willing to. Ours was one of the most affected villages because of its proximity [to the Dera],” he said.

Employment woes

Among those who expressed content at the sentence were those who worried about their next month’s salary. These residents belonged to Nezia Khera village, which houses factories and institutes owned by Gurmeet Ram Rahim. “We accept and honour the verdict and his punishment, but what will happen to our jobs. We don’t worship him, but he was our employer,” said Sarvan Kumar, a labourer who claimed to be working at the Dera’s farms.

But there are followers who believe that a miracle would bring the Dera chief home. Bain Singh, 63, security supervisor of a factory, said that what happened with the Dera chief was “a conspiracy”. “It’s all the work of the government which wanted his land. I’ve seen dead people come alive because Papaji touched them. I am sure he’ll be back home soon,” he said.

Lakhbir Singh, 21, said: “Whatever happened with him is wrong.”

“We revered Satnam Singh ji but a lot of us lost trust in Ram Rahim ji because of his ways. He wears fashionable clothes, makes movies, sings songs, our elder generation felt betrayed,” Vikram Singh, 28, said.


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Printable version | May 17, 2022 3:18:36 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/the-calm-streets-of-sirsa-villages/article19576711.ece