When it comes to religious beliefs, Indians are remarkably credulous. Many smart people have understood this well and have transformed themselves into Godmen. They often gain a huge following which seems inexplicable to persons who are agnostic by nature.
However, the long arm of the law has eventually called out many of these Godmen and exposed the reality behind their flowing robes. There is a running thread of irony in the lives of many Godmen – they lived a life of opulence while their followers poured money into their coffers and lived simply.
The first blog in this series is about Osho, and the second was about Asaram Bapu. In this, the third in the series, we look at the charges against (and conviction), and the current status of the legal proceedings against another prominent Godman, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan
In India, Godmen often turn out to be unbelievably ungodly. In India, the wheels of justice often grind agonizingly slowly but eventually, the long arm of the law does catch up with their misdeeds. This is the brief story of Ram Rahim who ran over 46 ashrams of the Dera Sacha Sauda in India and abroad, led a flamboyant lifestyle including glitzy costumes, but with a seamier, unknown side that remained secret until it no longer was a secret.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan aka Ram Rahim
Head of the Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS), he is a social and religious leader, and also a singer, writer and actor. At 23, he became the leader of the DSS in 1990 on the passing of Satnam Singh, the then head of DSS who had earlier anointed Ram Rahim as his successor. Ram Rahim expanded the DSS from 25 to 46 ashrams in India and abroad. Its HQ was at Sirsa, Haryana. Ram Rahim was flamboyant and featured in some Bollywood movies, songs etc. In elections, he would tell his millions of followers whom to vote for, and as a result, he gained huge political clout.
In 2002, he was accused by a woman disciple who claimed that Ram Rahim raped her and sexually harassed her. This case, and another similar one from another female disciple, wound their way through Courts for 15 years. In August 2017, he was convicted on two counts of raping two female followers by a CBI Court. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. All cases were handed over to a special CBI Court inter alia, because the Haryana Police was dragging its feet and moving very slowly on the cases.
Ram Rahim was also charged by the CBI as a key conspirator for allegedly murdering a DSS follower, Ranjit Singh, on July 10, 2002. for his suspected role in circulating an anonymous letter narrating how women were being sexually exploited in the DSS. This case still drags on. Final arguments were heard in Feb, 2021.
The CBI registered a case of rape under IPC Sections 376 (sexual assault), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (insult to the modesty of a woman). Over 200,000 of his followers gathered outside the CBI courtroom. His eventual conviction led to widespread violence and vandalism in Panchkula where armed followers of Ram Rahim engaged the police. The exchanges left several dead and injured. There were violent protests in some other places in India as well. In January 2019, Ram Rahim and three others were convicted of the murder of a journalist, Ram Chander Chhatrapati, who first published the letter of the first rape victim, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Ram Rahim is currently lodged in a Rohtak, Haryana jail.
(a) The Punjab & Haryana HC also ordered attachment of DSS properties to compensate for the damage caused in the rioting.
(b) There were shocking allegations that Ram Rahim got castrated 166 of his followers. He denied the charge, and in October 2018, he was granted bail by a Panchkula CBI court in this case. The charges framed by the CBI say that they were castrated in the DSS premises after giving them the false hope that “males who would get castrated would be able to achieve God through Ram Rahim". The case is also close to being decided. A book has been written and published on the castrations alone.
Rajesh is a qualified CA & CWA. He has served as a Director of PricewaterhouseCoopers, a Director of a large urban co-operative bank and Dean of a B-School over the years. He has taught Finance for over 20 years & trained participants from several Companies and B-Schools. He is an educator and a learner (he believes both are inextricably intertwined), and a knowledge product developer. Law Gyani, which he has founded to help Law Students with their exam preparations, and to understand nuances of the law.
Law Gyani’s mission is to make available better, easier-to-use and richer content to the legal community. Our first offering is a Q&A product, aimed at helping LL.B. students to appear for their examinations. While we have begun with answering questions from the last 10 years’ question papers of the Mumbai University’s 3-Year LL.B. course, Law Gyani is committed to expanding the content to cover Q&A on all law papers of most Universities in India.