He calls himself the messenger of god and his debut movie due for release next month has the same title — Messenger of God (MSG). These days he is seen wearing bizarre clothes and singing Love Charger, a song from his music album Highway Love Charger. For few he is entertaining, for many hilarious. But the self-proclaimed godman Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has a different side to his life as well: a life full of allegations, ranging from illegal possession of arms and ammunition to murders, rape and sexual exploitation.
On 5 January, after a directive from the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case against Ram Rahim for alleged castration of his followers. The case was filed after Hansraj Chauhan,a former follower of Ram Rahim, alleged that he and 400 others were castrated by doctors at the godman’s behest.
Chauhan claims that between 1996 and 2003, Ram Rahim forced his followers to undergo castration. Chauhan’s medical examination has established that he was indeed castrated.
This is not the first time that this self-proclaimed godman is in the news for wrong reasons. In an painstaking investigation named Operation Jhoota Sauda by Tehelka in 2007, a gory tale of rape, murder, sexual exploitation, forced castration revealed that Dera Sacha Sauda is a den of vice. Although, enquiries were initiated against Ram Rahim following Tehelka’s exposé, the slow pace of investigation ensured that he continued with his exploits.
Shortly after the story was broken, the CBI filed its chargesheets in two cases of murder and a rape against Ram Rahim in a special court in Ambala. The chargesheets pertained to sexual exploitation of women in the Dera and murders of Ranjit Singh and Ram Chander Chhatrapati, a manager in the DSS and a Sirsa-based journalist respectively.
After getting a lead from sources on the murders and rape, Tehelka’s investigation team travelled across the length and breadth of Haryana, following possible clues to help the team in the exposé. Tehelka’s investigation led to Khatta Singh, Ram Rahim’s former driver and a part of his inner coterie.
Singh admitted that Ram Rahim raped a woman and murdered her brother Ranjit Singh. Singh also revealed that he knew of at least seven murders committed by Ram Rahim’s henchmen. He also said that sexual exploitation of the women living in the Dera’s premises was rampant, and that there were several male followers who had been forcibly castrated on the Baba’s orders. Singh is now a CBI witness against Ram Rahim in two cases of murder and a rape.
According to Singh, a close aide of the Ram Rahim prepared a roster of girls who would serve the godman on any particular day. Girls who refused were tortured. A lucky few who escaped from the Dera have given their statements to the CBI.
When a Rannjit Singh’s sister wrote an anonymous letter to then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2002, accusing the Ram Rahim of sexual abuse, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered a CBI probe into the complaint. Sources claim that Ranjit Singh’s sister, who was teaching at the Dera’s girls’ school in Sirsa, recorded her statement before a judicial magistrate under Section 164 of the CRPC against the Baba accusing him of rape and molestation.
She gave graphic details of how she was raped twice by Ram Rahim. According to her, younger women are housed a few metres from Ram Rahim’s chamber. Ranjit’s sister claims that Ram Rahim killed her brother after he refused to return to the Dera.
Khatta Singh corroborated this, saying that after Ranjit refused to return to the Dera he was killed because the Baba feared that he would spill the beans. Singh also told Tehelka about the murder of Lakshman Das, a cook in the Dera.
Khatta claimed that Das was murdered because he refused to acknowledge the authority of Ram Rahim. After Das was murdered, a rumour was spread that he had committed suicide by consuming poison because he was mentally disturbed.
In yet another example of the Baba’s depravity, Singh told Tehelka about a boy who was killed after he protested his castration at the Dera. He was once a close aide of Ram Rahim, and the godman feared that he might leave the Dera and expose the godman.
According to Singh, Ram Rahim castrates his followers to ensure their loyalty. The castrations, according to Singh, are conducted at the 400-bed superspeciality hospital owned by the Dera in Sirsa.
Such is the political clout of Gurmeet Ram Rahim that on 7 October 2014, 44 of the 90 BJP candidates contesting Haryana Assembly election visited Ram Rahim to seek his blessings. The contingent was lead by Kailash Vijayvargiya, urban development minister of Madhya Pradesh. Vijayvargiya was the BJP’s campaign incharge for Haryana. Realising the political clout Ram Rahim wields in many important Assembly constituencies, even BJP president Amit Shah had a meeting with Ram Rahim at his Sirsa den.
However, Ram Rahim denies all allegation levelled against him.
Talking to the press at his ashram and replying to the question of forced castration, he said, “This is cent per cent false. I never asked anyone to do so. I would get my head chopped if I ever asked anyone either in Satsang or in alone to do so…not even once since 1948.” Regarding the Zplus- like security in the Ashram, the self styled Godman says that some people do not like the good works he has done for the society.