Above: The entrance of Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa, Haryana
Behind the entire crass, gruesome and disgusting episode of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan’s conviction on a double rape charge by a Panchkula special CBI court judge, is the fight for truth of a victim who had first written to the then (2002) prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, alleging the crime.
She was one of the self-styled Baba’s female followers, and alleged that she and two followers were raped in his Dera Sacha Sauda—a dera that Ram Rahim was handed on a platter in 1990. The dera was founded by Shah Mastana of Baluchistan in 1948 and Shah Satnam succeeded Mastana. It was Satnam who officially handed the dera over to Ram Rahim when he was just 23.
The victim alleged that she was raped when she entered his secret chamber after being asked to. Ram Rahim was watching a pornographic film at the time. The allegation was that it was not just she or two others, but many more girls had been forcibly violated by this self-seeking, self-styled, politically connected goon of a guru.
Following up on the allegation, a court ordered a CBI probe and in 2007 the CBI charged the Baba under Sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
The letter was first published in ‘Desh Sewak’ on September 25, 2002.
Subject: Seeking probe into the rape of hundreds of women by
I am a girl hailing from Punjab State. I have been serving as a ‘Sadhwi’ in ‘Dera Sacha Sauda‘, Sirsa (Haryana) for the last five years. Besides me, there are hundreds of other girls here, who serve for 16-18 hours daily.
But we are sexually exploited here. The ‘Dera Maharaj’ Gurmeet Singh rapes the girls in the ‘dera’. I am a graduate. My family has blind faith in the ‘Maharaj’ (Gurmeet Singh). It was at my family’s bidding that I became a ‘Sadhwi’.
Two years after I became a ‘Sadhwi’, a special woman-disciple of Maharaj Gurmeet Singh came to me one night at 10′ o’ clock and said that the Maharaj had summoned me to his room. I felt elated that Maharaj himself had sent for me. I was going to him for the first time. After climbing the stairs, when I went into his room, I saw that he was holding a remote in his hand and was watching a blue film on the TV. Beside his pillow on the bed, lay a revolver.
Seeing all this, I was frightened and became nervous. I had never imagined that Maharaj was a man of this type. Maharaj switched off the TV and seated me beside him. He offered me water and said that he had called me because he considered me very close to him. This was my first experience.
Maharaj took me in his embrace and said that he loved me from the core of his heart. He also said that he wanted to make love to me. He told me that at the time of becoming his disciple, I had dedicated my wealth, body and soul to him and he had accepted my offering. When I objected he said, “There is no doubt that I am God.” When I asked if God also indulges in such acts, he shot back:
- Sri Krishna too was God and he had 360 ‘gopis’ with whom he enacted ‘prem lila’. Even then people regarded him as God. So there is nothing to be surprised at it.
- I can kill you with this revolver and bury you here.
- The members of your family are my devoted followers and they have blind faith in me. You know it very well that the members of your family cannot go against me.
- I have considerable influence with governments also. Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana and central Ministers come to pay obeisance at my feet. Politicians take help from us. They cannot take any action against me. We will get the members of your family dismissed from government jobs and I will get them killed by my ‘Sewadars’ (servants). We will leave no evidence of their murder. You know that earlier also we got the ‘dera’ Manager Fakir Chand killed by goondas. His murder remains untraced till this day.
- The ‘dera’ has a daily income of one crore rupees with which we can buy leaders, police and the judges.
After this, the Maharaj raped me. The Maharaj has been doing this with me for the last three years. My turn comes after every 25-30 days. Now I have learnt that before me too, the Maharaj had been raping the girls he had summoned. Most of these women are now 35 to 40 years old and they are past the age of marriage. They have no other option but to remain in the ‘dera’.
Most of the girls are educated – B.A., M.A., B.Ed, etc. But they are living a life of hell in the ‘dera’, simply because the members of their families have blind faith in the Maharaj. We wear white clothes, tie a scarf on the head, cannot even look at men and as per Maharaj’s commands, and talk with men from a distance of 5-10 feet. To the people we look like ‘devis’ (goddesses), but we are living like harlots.
This time I tried to tell my family that all was not well at the ‘dera’. But they rebuked me saying that there was no better place than the ‘dera’ for here they were in the company of God (Maharaj). They said that I had formed a bad notion about the ‘dera’ and that I should recite the name of ‘Satguru’.
I am helpless here because I have to obey every command of the Maharaj. No girl is permitted to talk with another, according to the commands of the Maharaj.
Girls are not permitted to talk to their families even on the telephone. If any girl talks about the reality of the ‘dera’, she is punished according to Maharaj’s commands. Sometime ago, a Bhatinda girl revealed the wrongdoings of the Maharaj. At this, all the women disciples gave her a sound thrashing. Because of a fracture in the backbone, she is now bed-ridden. Her father gave up the service in the ‘dera’ and went home. For fear of the Maharaj and his own disgrace, he is not revealing anything.
Similarly, a Kurukshetra girl has also left the ‘dera’ and has gone home. When she narrated the events in the ‘dera’ to her family, her brother who worked in the ‘dera’ gave up his job. When a Sangrur girl left the ‘dera’, went home and narrated the wrong-doings in the ‘dera’ to the people, the dera’s armed Sewadars/ hooligans reached the girl’s house and threatened to kill her and warned her not to leak anything about the ‘dera’.
Similarly girls from Mansa, Ferozepur, Patiala and Ludhiana districts are afraid of revealing anything about the ‘dera’. Although they have left the ‘dera’, yet they do not say anything for fear of losing their lives. Similarly, girls from Sirsa, Hisar, Fatehabad, Hanuman Garh and Meerut do not disclose as to what happened to them in the ‘dera’.
If I reveal my name, I and my family will be killed. I want to reveal this truth for the benefit of the common man, because I cannot bear all this tension and harassment. My life is in danger. If a probe is conducted by the press or some government agency, 40 to 50 girls living in the ‘dera’ will come forward to reveal the truth. We can also be medically examined to find out whether we are still celibate disciples or not. If we are no longer virgins, the matter should be gone into to find out who has violated our chastity.
The truth will then come out that Maharaj Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of ‘Sacha Sauda’ has ruined our lives.”
This is the letter, on the basis of which the entire investigation has been moved and the current situation and conviction has arisen.
—India Legal Bureau