History of cases and controversies against Dera Sacha Sauda chief

Rape convict Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. (PTI)

NEW DELHI:  The rape charges against Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS) chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, regarded as a spiritual leader, has shocked millions of his followers spread across several states with a large concentration in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim, was on Friday held guilty by the Special CBI Court of Panchkula. The quantum of sentence will, however, be announced on August 28.

Popularly known as Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh claims to command a veritable following of more than 60 million of his faithfuls, especially the Dalit Sikhs, according to the website of his organisation Dera Sacha Sauda.

Here is all about the case against Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh:

1. In 2002, two women, who used to be members of the Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS), accused that they were sexually exploited by the spiritual leader Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh at the headquarters of the sect in Haryana's Sirsa.

2. The case begun with a anonymous letter sent to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, by a Sadhvi, who was part of the organisation, narrating how Singh raped her along with various other Sadhvis.

3. According to the media reports, the Sadhvi accused that the spiritual leader Ram Rahim summoned her one night to his room where a pornographic film was running in the background and he possessed a revolver.

4. The Sadhvi alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Singh for three years, and 35-40 other women also suffered the same fate.

5. The Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo motto cognisance of the explosive letter, and the matter was subsequently referred to the CBI in September 2002.

6. Eighteen Sadhvis were questioned by the investigating agency and two of them levelled allegations of rape against the spiritual leader.

7. One Sadhvi accepted to investigation officials of CBI that she was raped, but she justified her rape on the grounds that it would “purify” her.

8. Testimonies of the two women were recorded under Section 164 of CrPC by CBI, which implied that these statements could be produced in court as evidence.

9. On 10 July 2002, a DSS member Ranjit Singh was killed.

10. On 23 October 2002 a journalist (the editor of Poora Sach, a local daily from Sirsa) Ram Chander Chattrapati was also killed.

11. It was alleged that Ram Chander Chattrapati - the editor of Poora Sach,– was killed because he reported on the nefarious happenings within the Dera Sacha Sauda.

12. The slain Ranjit Singh was believed to have been involved in the drafting of the anonymous letter making rape allegations against the DSS chief.

13. Singh was named as an accused in both the killings of DSS member Ranjit Singh on 10 July 2002 and journalist Ram Chander Chattrapati on 23 October 2002.

14. However, DSS chief Singh consistently denied charges of rape saying, he was ‘Not fit to Indulge in physical relationships’.

15. On 30 July 2007, five years after the rape case was filed in 2002 against Ram Rahim Singh, CBI filed a charge sheet against him.

16. In 2008, the trial against the spiritual leader commenced following the charge sheet filed by CBI.

17. On 6 September 2008, the CBI charged DSS chief Singh under Section 376 (rape) and Section 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

18. In April 2011, after three years of the charge sheet filed against Singh, the CBI court was shifted from Ambala to Panchkula.

19. The DSS chief has consistently dismissed the charges of rape and murder against him as false and baseless.

20. In 2014, Singh even conveyed to the Panchkula court that “he was not fit to indulge in physical relationships”, according to his counsel SK Garg Narwana.

The above allegations of rape are not the only controversy Singh has courted till now. He has been in the controversy for several other reasons also including the allegations of murdering people and castrating his followers as well.

• In 2005, a criminal case was filed against Singh for the alleged kidnap of a woman named Guddi Devi on the complaints filed by Kamlesh Kumar with the Jawahar Circle police station in Jaipur.

• In his complaint, Kamlesh Kumar claimed Singh and his followers had kidnapped his wife Guddi, who had gone to the headquarters in Haryana to attend a Satsang.

• A case was of wrongful confinement and abductions was lodged against Singh, Dera managing director DPS Dutta and others under Sections 344, 346, 365 and 120b (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, according to media reports.

• In 2007, DSS chief Singh dressed up as the 10th guru of Sikhs – Guru Gobind Singh – in an advertisement that sparked huge controversy and was considered blasphemous by a section of Sikhs.

• Hundreds of people injured after his move to pose himself as the 10th guru of Sikhs – Guru Gobind Singh – which ignited violent clashes between Sikhs and his followers.

• In 2012, Singh was accused for the mass castration case.

• A  petition was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court by Hansraj Chauhan, a former DSS follower, alleging that 400 followers, including him, were castrated inside the ashram on Singh's order.

• Chauhan said Singh claimed the followers would be able to realise God after castration.

• In 2014, the Singh was booked in connection with the case by CBI.

• CBI found evidence against Singh in the mass castration case a year later.

• In 2014, after reports of illegal arms training surfaced online, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered the state government to monitor the activities of the DSS.

• However, no evidence of illegal arms training at the DSS headquarters in Sirsa in Haryana was found, in the investigations, the state government claimed.

• In 2015, Singh again came in MSG movies controversies, when the then censor board chief Leela Samson resigned after the film got clearance from Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), saying "It is a mockery of Central Board of Film Certification. My resignation is final."

• Sikh organisations and leaders protested against the release of the film prompting Punjab and Haryana governments to put high alert after film hit screens.