Dera Sacha Sauda
See also Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
The Dera Sacha Sauda [The Home of Honest Transactions] sect was founded by Shah Mastana of Baluchistan in 1948. Another popular guru Shah Satnam succeeded Mastana, and remained the head from 1948 to 1960. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh [born 1967] took charge of the dera at the age of 23 1n 1990.
For long, it was just another sect in Haryana. Not exactly an exception in the northern India dotted by hundreds of deras of all sizes.
However, it has gained in size, number of followers and assets at an exponential rate in last couple of decades. That Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, as its head, is credited for this transformation became clear when he anointed his son, Jasmeet, a businessman, as his next successor. There was no murmur against the breaking of the old custom of appointing dera heads.
Jasmeet, now known as Jasmeet Singh Insan, was declared as next successor through a will after the CBI had filed a chargesheet against Gurmeet in rape and murder cases in 2007.
Jasmeet is married to former Punjab MLA and Congress leader Harminder Singh Jassi's daughter. He has two daughters as well.
The dera claims to have been raking in money from its chief's musical and film career, though the box office and album sales are contested. There are other financial avenues available too. The dera also runs online business, launched in February last year, to sell around 151 products, including food items. The same items are also sold by his followers through their own business establishments, including highway dhabas. There is, however, no data or even reliable estimates on how big the dera's business is.
The ashram has branches in Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Chandigarh.
The main campus in Sirsa is spread over around 700 acres, which includes dera's official headquarters, a hospital, educational institutions, place to deliver sermons, and a sports complex. In November 2014, Dera Sacha Sauda opened SMG Resorts, a world-class five-star hotel and resort.
Some 10 years before this, in August 2004, DSS had established Shah Satnam Ji Cricket Stadium, which includes three pitches of international standards, lush green outfield having the capacity of 35,000 spectators, with 1,000 well-seated pavilion for dignitaries and guests.
DSS claims that the stadium has the first and foremost automated pitch cover (first time in the world) designed and developed by the spiritual leader himself. Another one his "innovations".
2007-08: Dera expands, allegedly offends Sikhs
The Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the past one year but this has not affected the sect in spreading its tentacles across India. Over the years, the religious body has brought in its fold people from all sections of the society regardless of caste, creed, race and religion and now boasts of a following of 2.25 crore.
The controversy surrounding the sect sparked off in May 2007 with the Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh allegedly imitating Guru Gobind Singh in a ceremony that emulated the creation of the Khalsa. Soon after he was charged with raping a disciple and murdering two men, including a journalist.
The Dera chief got into a fresh row recently after a youth was killed and two others were injured when his bodyguard opened fire on Sikh protesters in Mumbai on June 20.
"Before the Dera row started, we had been constructing houses for the poor — almost 10 to 15 per year for the last 10 years in Bathinda district alone. The poor people associated with Dera get spiritual as well as monetary benefits," said Gurdev Singh, president of Bathinda block level committee of the sect.
The Dera activities include construction of houses for the poor on the recommendation of Dera committee heads at the village level, block level and district level. The organization also organises eye and blood donation camps. By registering 15,432 blood donors at a camp in Sirsa in December 2003 it had made it to the Guinness Book of World Records and broke its own record in October 2004 with 17,921 blood donors at a camp in Sriganganagar.
The Dera Sacha Sauda has about 50 Deras in 19 states in India. In Punjab, there are three Deras, the largest being Salabatpura, spread over 100 acres. Besides, it has a number of Naam Charcha Ghar (Religious Discourse Houses) across the country. Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh are among the main states where Dera has a huge following.
Dr Aditya Insan, the sect's spokesperson, said the religious body today has a following of 2.25 crore who are registered with the Dera for meditation.
Free health and educational facilities attract the poor from all sects and cast to its fold. But, most importantly it appeared to be the identity crisis among the lower strata of society that helped Dera get a huge following. The neglected, looked down upon and alienated lower classes of different religions got an identity after coming to the Dera, say experts.
"The lower strata of society strive for an identity and that well explains the Dera Sacha Sauda mass base of landless laborers," said Parmod Kumar, director of Chandigarh-based Institute of Development and Communication. "Another reason for the people's shift towards the Dera culture is that the dominant religions do not change with time and Punjab has been a place where the atmosphere is congenial for the emergence of new religions," added Kumar.
"Most are from the mobile population that does not have much faith in religion and adopting to the Dera culture is easier for them, as they believe in so called living gods. The weekly congregations, which they consider a world away from their world of problems give solace to their minds," observed Dr R S Sandhu, Head of the Department of Political Science in Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar.
Experts believe that Dera's initiative to pursue people to abstain from all kinds of drugs has also appealed to the rural women, who feel that coming in the Dera fold was the best way to keep their husbands away from drugs.
The Dera managements claims no Maatha Tikai (monetary offerings) are taken from people except in case of donations for disaster management operations that is undertaken by the religious body.
The Dera management claims agricultural produce from its own fields at Sirsa, which is spread over a sprawling 500 acres, is the only source of money apart from selling products like Sach brand of jams and sauce.
A variety of crops are sown in the Dera land and the majority of it is sold to its followers, who buy the produce considering it as the parsad from the Baba. With the followers offering voluntary service, Dera also never feels the labour problems.
- Dera Sacha Sauda was founded by Shah Mastana of Baluchistan in 1948
- Shah Satnam succeeded Mastana and remained head from 1948 to 1960
- Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh took charge in 1990 at age 23
- Dera's number of followers and assets rose at an exponential rate in [roughly 1995-2017].
- After CBI filed chargesheet against him in rape and murder cases in 2007, Gurmeet anointed his son, Jasmeet, a businessman, as his next successor
- Jasmeet is married to former Punjab MLA and Congress leader Harminder Singh Jassi's daughter
- Dera claims it earns from Gurmeet's musical and film career
- It launched online business in February last year to sell around 151 products, including food items
- Ashram has branches in Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Chandigarh
- Main campus in Sirsa spread over around 700 acres
Cases against Dera chief
- In 2002, then PM Vajpayee gets anonymous letter alleging sexual harassment of sadhvis inside the Sirsa dera
- Sept 2002 | HC refers matter to CBI for probe after receiving inquiry report from Sirsa sessions judge
- July 2006 | One sadhvi makes a statement under Section 164 of CrPC and substantiates the allegations of rape
- July 2007 | CBI files chargesheet against dera head under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC
- Sept 2007 | HC gives him anticipatory bail
- Sept 2008 | CBI court frames charges against him under Section 376
- Feb 2009 | One sadhvi substantiates allegations of rape during trial
- Sept 2010 | Another sadhvi makes statement under oath and substantiates rape allegations
- Aug 1, 2017| Special CBI judge reserves verdict
2002: Judge casts aspersions on dera
While it took 15 years for investigation agencies and courts to punish Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for sexual exploitation of sadhvis, a judge had talked about this in an inquiry report in 2002.
In his detailed report which he prepared on the directions from the Punjab & Haryana HC, the then Sirsa district and sessions judge M S Sullar (who later retired as an HC judge) had observed: “It was less a religious dera than a business centre.“
The judge had also suggested that the truth of the dera could be ascertained if the matter was probed by a central agency . The inquiry report had also held that many “armed persons were freely roaming around the dera and number of influential persons like CMs of various states, including Punjab and Haryana, prominent political leaders, bureaucrats, doctors, engineers and other dignitaries have been visiting the dera.“
“There are more than 100 sadhvis (women disciples) permanently residing there besides other male and female disciples. Baba Gurmeet Singh is residing in a palatial `gufa' and nobody is allowed without his bodyguard's permission. Nobody in the dera is prepared to disclose sexual abuse of girls.There is no access to the hostel where sadhvis are residing without the baba's permission,“ the report said.
Recommending a CBI probe, the judge concluded: “To me, the truth can only be ascertained if the matter is secretly investigated through the central agency . Due to paucity of time, I could not lay my hands on any direct material.“
2018: functioning after one year of DERA violence (2017)
With the Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS) chief, Gurmeet Singh behind the bars for the last one year after his conviction in two rape cases, the Dera’s Sirsa-based headquarters is struggling hard to regain its clout and to maintain the “charisma” of the jailed godman.
TOI visited the Dera HQ and found that the management is trying its best to revive Gurmeet’s clout. The road leading to Shah Satnam Pura, the village where the Dera HQ is based, is dotted with life-size hoardings of the Dera chief, wishing him on his 51th “incarnation day (birthday)” that falls on August 15. These illegal hoardings were apparently placed on the behalf of his followers from Himachal, Punjab, Chandigarh, Canada and other parts of the world. One large billboard apparently had been placed on behalf of military veterans.
The Dera management claimed some 80 lakh followers were present at the HQ on August 15, but sources in intelligence agencies said there were less than 1 lakh visitors that day.
The sources confirmed that for past one year, the footfall in the Dera HQ had reduced to less than 10% of the previous figures.
The railway authorities at Sirsa are facing revenue loss of around Rs 60,000 every day since the last one year. The local railway station receives Rs 3 lakh revenue every day from the entire district, but Rs 60,000 was from the Dera visitors. Even hundreds of auto-rickshaws that used to ferry Dera followers on the 10-km stretch from Sirsa to the Shah Satnam Pura HQ have also been rendered jobless and have shifted their base to other areas. Even a special railway ticket counter, opened at the Dera headquarters, has been closed.
TOI entered the Dera HQ from the main entry point, Gate No 5, and found no change in the security arrangements. Nobody was allowed to enter the Dera with a mobile phone or any electronic gadget including chargers, remoteoriented car keys, headphones, dongles, and pen drives. These electronic items have to be deposited in the lockers outside the gate. Even after that every visitor is checked thoroughly with the handheld metal detectors by the specially-trained security personnel of the Dera before being allowed entry.
After having a meal at the Dera’s “Shahi” canteen, TOI took a round of the entire premises. Except employees and workers, the presence of followers was negligible. The “Satsang Pandal (place of discourse)” was almost empty, except few old-aged women followers.
“A large number of workers had left the Dera after the Dera chief was jailed because they were not getting any payment for the work. Even I had started living here with my family because we were paid decent wages. Now, the management says you can work, but there is no money to pay. How long can anyone work here just for langar,” says a 31-year-old follower from Khanak village in Bhiwani. He confirmed that many like him had shifted their families from the Dera to their native places.
Another follower, belonging to Dablan village in Hisar district said only a few followers from the adjoining villages and city attended the satsang that is held daily between 4 pm and 5 pm in new Dera and 5.30 pm to 6.30 pm at the old Dera. A large congregation is organized every Sunday for the weekly satsang. The recorded lectures of the jailed godman are shown on a large screen during these daily and weekly satsangs.
“Now, not even one-tenth of followers who used to attend the Dera one year ago, are coming for satsang. The business of all shops running inside as well as outside the Dera are running into losses. Initially, they remained closed for around three months after the violence, but thereafter, they are not running into any profit,” said a follower from nearby Arniwali village of Sirsa district.
TOI also noticed multi-tier security arrangement around some buildings inside the Dera which are still out of bounds for the visitors.
Sirsa resident, Anshul Chattarpati whose father and local journalist Ram Chander Chhatarpati was allegedly killed on the Dera chief’s directions, said that the Dera chief had always used his followers as a shield and to mount pressure on the judiciary and administration. “Once again, they have started approaching the followers in villages so that lost glory can be regained,” Anshul added.
Dera management focusing on villages
Sources confirmed to TOI that the Dera management is making all efforts to re-group and bring back the followers who had maintained a distance after August 25, 2017 violence. The sources in the intelligence agencies confirmed that the local Dera leaders are visiting villages and urging people to start attending “satsang (religious discourse)” organized every Sunday. Urging the followers to return to the Dera, they claim that the Dera chief had been backstabbed, but would soon be back in the Dera.
Showcasing ‘strength’ virtually
On its website, the Dera management claimed a massive turnout of 80 lakh followers on the birthday of the jailed godman. Dera chief’s mother Nasib Kaur and son, Jasmeet Singh along with other family members also visited the Dera that day. The family is living in Rajasthan’s Gurusar Modia, which is the native place of the Dera chief. The Dera website also claimed 30 lakh trees had been planted by volunteers on that day. However, intelligence agencies have put the number of visitors to the Dera HQ on August 15 at less than 1 lakh.
Last film ‘Jatu Engineer ’
Mahi cinema located within the Dera premises has been shut down since Gurmeet’s arrest. It still displays the posters of the Dera chief starrer “Jatu Engineer” that was screened before his conviction. A woman sitting inside the cinema hall confirmed that the theater has been closed for the past one year. However, people living in the adjoining villages still attend the hospital run by the Dera.
Arms and the clan
2010, Dec: Military had issued advisory
Based on intelligence reports compiled in December, the Military Intelligence Directorate had issued an “advisory” asking army personnel to refrain from getting involved with Dera Sacha Sauda and other similar outfits.
The advisory had stated that sister intelligence agencies had reported that some ex-servicemen were imparting arms training to dera activists.
The dera is based in Sirsa and that belt has a large ex-serviceman population. Besides, the advisory mentioned that some serving personnel were also reportedly taking part in social activities associated with the dera like blood donation and prayer meets.
“Association with such organisations have implications for security and discipline,” an officer said. “One cannot rule out the possibility of contact with anti-social, anti-national or subversive elements at gatherings where hundreds of persons are present,” it added.
Some officers fear that these are places where the mind can be subverted by playing communal and religious cards, thereby affecting their frame of mind and distracting individuals from their primary duties.
Unit commanders had been directed to sensitise troops about the implications and fallout of associating themselves with organisations that have known to create political, religious and social controversies and tensions.
The head of the dera Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh has been booked by the CBI for several alleged offences, including murder and rape. Dera followers have also created law and order problems and have gone on rampage more than once to block moves by the government to take action against Ram Rahim.
2010: Army warned of weapons training inside Dera
Were Dera Sacha Sauda followers given arms training inside its Sirsa headquarters?
The question has lingered in the minds of many ever since army intelligence red-flagged the issue in December 2010.They said ex-servicemen might have been used for the training and an advisory had been issued to troops to stay away from the Dera. The police, however, did not find any evidence of weapons being stored or followers being trained when it searched the Dera. It is only since the Panchkula violence that Dera followers have been held with weapons, including rifles and pistols.
The arms training issue came up again in late 2014 when followers of another controversial godman , Rampal, tried to stop the police from arresting him from his Dera in Hisar in a contempt of court case. Six people were killed in the clash.
The Punjab and Haryana HC had taken suo motu cognisance of reports of arms training inside Dera Sacha Sauda and on December 4, 2014 issued a notice to the Haryana government. Advocate Anupam Gupta, who was amicus curiae in the Rampal case, had produced the army advisory .
Justice M Jeyapaul had observed monitoring Dera activities were much needed to avoid any flare-up. “Casualty will be more in dimension compared to the one we had faced while executing warrant of arrest as against contemnor Rampal,“ the HC had observed. But giving clean chit to the Dera, the Haryana government had in 2015 told the court that an inquiry did not find any arms training or weapons. Haryana advocate general Baldev Raj Mahajan told TOI the Army advisory was an old one. “The previous government had found nothing in the Dera.“
2011: Arms training to Dera followers
Alarmed, SGPC wants govt to act tough
The SGPC and Akal Takht today expressed concern over reports that the Dera Sacha Sauda was reportedly providing arms training to its followers at its headquarters in Sirsa.
Talking to The Tribune, SGPC Chief Avtar Singh Makkar asked why those who claim to be spreading religion needed a private army.
He said that the Centre had sent out a stern warning to Baba Ramdev who had announced his plan to raise an army of his 11,000 followers a few days earlier. “Similarly, the government should act tough against Dera Sacha Sauda too.”
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh said the SGPC should take the issue seriously and should raise it with the state as well as the Union Government.
“Today, this dera is raising a private army. Tomorrow, others may follow suit. This is not a good sign,” he said adding that the government should act immediately on the matter.
18 gun licences were issued to Dera
Times Now has accessed the list of gun licences issued to Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's Dera Sacha Sauda (7 of the 18 guns were rifles, including 'AJK' 47s).
Qurbani Dal (sacrificial squad) of castrated men
The secret wing came to light on Friday August 25, after four Dera men were arrested from Ghraunda, in Karnal.
1 Ram Rahim wanted his male followers to sacrifice their lives for him.
2 Dera chief had formed a secret wing called 'Qurbani Dal' for this purpose.
3 These Qurbani Dal members have been taken into judicial custody.
Controversy surrounding the disgraced Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh doesn't seem to end. The self-proclaimed godman asked his female followers to surrender their 'tan and man' (body and soul) to him, and on the other hand he convinced his male followers to sign a pledge to sacrifice their lives for him.
Interrogation of five dera men arrested in Karnal and Ambala has revealed existence of a secret wing called the 'Qurbani Dal' (sacrifice wing) which was created on the directions of the rapist baba by the security department.
The secret wing came to light on Friday on August 25, after four Dera men were arrested from Ghraunda, in Karnal. The police had also recovered two pistols and petrol cans from their possession. Their interrogation had revealed that they were members of the Qurbani Dal and were asked to mete out 'qatl-e-aam' by Dera in case the baba gets apprehended. They were also given a code word 'Paudharopan Karo' to massacre people during the mayhem.
These Qurbani Dal members have been taken into judicial custody. Although, three members of this dal are absconding after the arrest of Ashok Kumar from village Mulana, in Ambala. Investigations made by India Today have revealed that the recruitment drive to get Dera followers for the Qurbani Dal was started a year ago. The recruits were also asked to sign a pledge and were promised financial help of Rs 11 lacs and a house.
The arrested dal members, have told police that they wanted to sacrifice their life for the godman as he was innocent. Sources said, hundreds of youths including female followers had signed the pledge to sacrifice themselves for the Baba.
Qurbani Dal is in addition to the 400 men who were castrated as a part of sacrifice.
"The castrated followers were told that by removing their testicles they will meet God directly. Gurmeet Ram Rahim would then prepare testicle soup and claim that by drinking this soup he will be able to maintain his vigour. Those castrated were asked to join the security wing of Dera which served as Baba's private army," Haquiki Hans, a former Dera follower and castration victim told India Today.
Dera Spokesperson Dr Aditya Insan has however, denied the allegations and termed the Qurbani Dal as a wild imagination.
Wild imagination? Documents prove `suicide squad' existed
Police have recovered documents indicating that the Dera Sacha Sauda was forming a `suicide squad' that could go to any extent to create chaos and build pressure on agencies investigating cases against the dera head.
“I have dedicated my life to the cause of humanity that has been promoted by the Dera Sacha Sauda. If I die in an accident or in any other way , I will be responsible for it. No one else can be held responsible for my death. None of my descendants or family members will have the right to hold Dera Sacha Sauda responsible for my death,“ read an affidavit signed by one of the dera followers, Indu Insan on October 20, 2005.
Indu, a resident of Sirsa, was among the many dera followers who signed similar documents after the CBI started investigating various criminal activities of the dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.Prepared on a registered stamp papers, the documents absolved the dera chief of all responsibility if his followers died “while serving humani ty“. Police officers told TOI that there are hundreds of such affidavits prepared by dera followers. Many of the documents have started appearing in the public domain after a special CBI court convicted the dera chief on August 25 for raping two of his sadvis .
“We had intelligence inputs about these squads being re-activated this time too,“ said IG, intelligence, A K Rao.“Some dera followers had attempted self-immolation in 2005 and a few of them were successful.“ On August 27, a day before the CBI judge was to pronounce punishment to the dera head, the police arrested two people from Ambala with Rs 38 lakh.
Explosives, illegal firecracker factory on campus
Explosives, illegal firecracker factory found inside Dera Sacha Sauda premises
"A firecracker factory has been found inside the dera premises and it is an illegal factory," said state information and public relations department deputy director, Satish Mehra.
He said some explosive material to be used in making firecrackers was also found.
The premises of the dera houses educational institutions, markets, a hospital, stadium, recreational areas and houses.
PTI | Sep 9, 2017 added: During the on-going search, an empty box for cartridges of AK 47 was also recovered, Mehra said.
Ashrams, assets of the Dera
Dera Sacha Sauda has ashrams in Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Chandigarh. Its headquarter is located at Sirsa in Haryana. The main campus is over 700 acres.
Since Baba Ram Rahim called himself a saint, a cave seemed to be the natural moniker for his private quarters at the sprawling dera (ashram) spread over 700 acres in the town of Sirsa, in Haryana.
The mirrored windows of his massive private residence hid stories of sexual exploitation, not heard since the Sultanate where emperors would have harems for concubines.
India Today has access to exclusive details of Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's properties. According to the report, Dera has 40 ashrams spread across 7 states Haryana, Punjab, UP, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra.
Dera chief also has ashrams in Australia and Italy too.
Dera also owns 3 hospitals, 13 educational institutes.
Inheritance of the assets
In 2007, Dera chief had named his son Jasmeet Singh Insan, as his successor.
However, Jasmeet has two very tough competitors now.
Honeypreet Insan, who calls herself 'Papa's angel', is the strongest contender.
Brahmachari Vipasana, the second-in-command of the dera, is also in the reckoning.
NEW DELHI: With Dera Sacha Sauda chief in jail for 20 years+ , speculation over who will succeed him has taken centre-stage in the organisation's Sirsa headquarters and among his followers, said to be in crores. In 2007, when rape charges were framed against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, he had named his son, Jasmeet Singh Insan, as his successor. But that was a decade ago and things are different today. First, the dera, founded by Shah Mastana Balochistani in 1948, has traditionally never seen succession in a bloodline. Secondly, Jasmeet has two very tough competitors.
Honeypreet Insan, who calls herself ' Papa's angel+ ' and has shadowed him for over 20 years besides being the director-actress in most of his films, is the strongest contender. The influence she holds over the sect's followers is substantial. Besides, she has already been handling dera affairs as a close confidante of its chief. What works against her is that Haryana police on Friday issued a lookout notice and charged her with sedition for her attempt to free the dera head after his conviction on Friday. Perhaps, the most serious of all contenders is Brahmachari Vipasana, the nambardaar or second-in-command of the dera. The 35-year-old has risen through the ranks to head the dera's management and was authorised by Ram Rahim to take all decisions on behalf of the dera in his absence.
There is no estimate of the Dera's wealth but it is said to be worth hundreds of crores. Their headquarters in Sirsa is spread over 700 acres, with a state-of-the-art hospital, shopping complex, educational institutions and an auditorium the size of an Olympic stadium. The premises also has a self-sustainable dairy and a vegetable farm. The sect is said to have several other properties across the country and abroad. One outsider who is at the centre of this succession row and may play a crucial role in future events is former Congress MLA Harminder Singh Jassi, whose daughter is married to the dera head's son. According to sources, he has been camping in Sirsa for days trying to lobby in favour of his son-in-law.
The chaos in Sirsa is neither unprecedented nor unexpected. For godmen in India, the toughest challenge - even greater than acquiring devotees and setting up sprawling mutts — has been to hold them together in their absence. Bloody wars over succession have witnessed noxious bickering and murders.
Early beginning for Vipassna
Vipasana, 32, had joined the Sirsa dera when she was a student of Class VI. She had even finished her graduation and postgraduation from the educational institutes inside the dera complex. Like Honeypreet, she was among the closest confidants of dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. She was in charge of the women section of the dera before she was appointed as chairperson of the dera trust in 2011.
Campus in Sirsa
A tunnel connecting Ram Rahim's 'gufa' to sadhvis' hostel
- From the 'gufa' where the Dera head used to stay, a passageway was found which opens to 'Sadhvi Niwas'
- An illegal fire cracker factory and chemicals were also found during the search of the Dera premises
SIRSA: A tunnel and a passageway connecting Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's quarters to the hostel of his female disciples were found by the security agencies.
An illegal fire cracker factory and chemicals were also found during the search of the premises of the dera.
From the 'gufa' where the Dera head used to stay, a passageway was found which opens to 'Sadhvi Niwas', (where his female disciples were kept.
"A fibre tunnel too has been located during the search of the dera," he said.
The fibre tunnel is filled with mud, he said.
"The derawas is connected to Sadhvi Niwas," he said.
Entertainment on the campus
Big Brother- type Couples’ Game in the Cave
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh used to organise a 'Bigg Boss-like show' in his secret cave involving couples, Honeypreet Insan's former husband claimed as he also dismissed as a sham that she was the Dera Sacha Sauda chief's adopted daughter.
"No legal adoption was done ... It is all sham," he told reporters here.
He also claimed that Ram Rahim made six couples play a game similar to "Bigg Boss".
"Ram Rahim made us play a game similar to 'Bigg Boss' in his cave. Six couples spent 28 days there," he claimed.
Gupta claimed that Honeypreet was not adopted legally. "Both Ram Rahim and Honeypreet threatened me and my family on several occasions," he claimed.
Since 2009, Honeypreet was living with Ram Rahim as his de-facto wife, Gupta alleged, adding that prior to 2009, only men were given top roles in the Dera management but after 2009, women, including Honeypreet started having a say.
Ram Rahim adopted Honeypreet in 2009. Gupta claimed he married Honeypreet in 1999 on the direction of the Dera chief before filing for divorce in 2011.
"I had to suffer so much under him. They filed a fake dowry case 11 years after my marriage. In the
Gupta also claimed that even after moving out of the Dera headquarters to his house in Sector 15 in Panchkula, four-five men were stationed outside on the orders of the Dera, tracking his movements and keeping a record of it in a diary.
"I informed the police who arrested seven men and found the diary in their possession," he said.
Illegal activities: 1
Exposed by Kaushik/ Latterly 2½ years before court verdict
A journalist by vocation and storyteller by nature, Narendra Kaushik loves travelling and exploring the unknown. Based in New Delhi, he has worked with almost all genres of print media.
This story was edited by Ben Wolford. Additional editing by Jackie Valley.
These are extracts. For the full story please visit Narendra Kaushik | THE MESSENGER OF GOD | Feb 18, 2015 | Latterly Magazine
The castration of hundreds of men
Hans Raj Chauhan has eyes rimmed with kohl and a smooth, hairless face. “I lost my body hair and even stopped growing them on my face,” he said, pulling a sleeve to reveal his bare arms. The eye makeup is because of his profession — he’s a Sufi singer — and because his mother likes it, he said. The smooth skin is one effect of hormonal changes he attributes to forced castration.
By 2000, Chauhan had become very close with Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
For his thousands of hermits, who are closest to him, he is like a father. So when Chauhan decided to become a hermit, he did not hesitate to undergo what he was told would be a “minor operation.” Years later, he bitterly regrets joining what he now believes is a cult, and he is pursuing his case in court.
Chauhan was 5 when he first visited Dera Sacha Sauda, the ashram in Sirsa. Chauhan’s parents were followers, and they made their boy dance before the guru and his hermits. The guru offered sweets and asked him to chant a mantra in Punjabi language describing God as omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. Chauhan didn’t know what the words meant, but he loved the sweets.
Chauhan, a skinny boy in his early teens at the time, was in awe. He took on voluntary duties in the Sirsa ashram and in the other hermitages across the country — offering water to visitors, announcing the guru’s arrivals and discourses, making audio cassette copies of the guru’s lectures and growing vegetables in the ashram’s farms.
In 1994, Chauhan helped a team of masons construct an ashram in Himachal Pradesh. As payment, the guru gave them a gift: a 5-meter-long piece of fabric. Chauhan was overcome with joy. “At that time, I thought I was not deserving even of a handkerchief,” he said. Later that year, he requested to become a permanent disciple and live in the ashram. “I was told I’ll have to make a personal request,” he said. So he went to Singh’s private chamber and asked “to let me be at his feet.”
Many claim to have experienced miracles
A middle-aged farmer from Punjab state believes the guru’s blessings secured a government job for his son, an X-ray technician. (The farmer is also a member of the guru’s Green S Welfare Force, a group of uniformed volunteers who wield batons. They act as a kind of militia, controlling crowds and protecting the guru when he is taken to the Sirsa court complex for criminal proceedings.)
A restaurateur in Fatehabad, about 70 kilometers from Sirsa, praises the guru’s work against addiction. Punjab is riddled with alcoholism and addiction to opiates smuggled from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Many of Singh’s followers believe he has cured them. The restaurateur’s son said he quit smoking thanks to the guru’s chanting regimen.
Another, Rakesh Dhawan claims a 5-millimeter stone disappeared from his abdomen after he started meditating. “The doctors had told me I’ll have to undergo operation.”
Dr Aditya Insaan proudly cites Guinness World Records for things like eye health screenings and blood donations (43,732 people gave blood on the same day). Critics, meanwhile, say the social campaigns are to distract from criminal allegations. Fourteen of the 16 world records the guru claims to have set were achieved after the cases came to light.
Recently, after a long spate of violent assaults on women in India, Singh tweeted, “If u find any acid attack victim girl. inform me.I ll adopt her like my daughter and get her treated. Her marriage will be done if she wishes.”
As a teenager, Chauhan learned to sing and play music from the other hermits in the ashram.
When Singh traveled to other hermitages, Chauhan often accompanied him to sing devotional songs. Singh’s son Jasmeet was married in 2003, and Chauhan sang in the wedding.
Early moments of disillusionment
Even by then, however, Chauhan had suffered moments of disillusionment. During a visit to Rajasthan state, Chauhan and five others were caught in a flash flood, he said. The swollen Chambal River had overwhelmed their Jeep, which soon was underwater. Chauhan knows how to swim. “I managed to open the window, climbed to the roof of the vehicle and swam to safety to a nearby temple,” he said. “There I procured a long iron rod. We put that rod across to the Jeep and pulled everybody to safety.”
The story of their narrow escape reached the ashram in Sirsa before they did. When the hermits returned soggy and tired, Singh welcomed them with a bouquet of flowers. Then he said, “I saved you this time, but be careful in the future.” Chauhan was confused. “How could he say this? He was not even with us.”
But Chauhan continued to rise in the ashram’s hierarchy. He was promoted to Singh’s “cave,” a circular room where the guru met his closest disciples. Sometime in late 1999, the hermits began pestering Chauhan to become a full-time hermit by renouncing all worldly pleasures and ties. Singh — himself a married man with three children and two grandchildren — criticized those who owned homes and had families, Chauhan said. “The guru would say, ‘Married people live like the worms live in filth. The life of a celibate hermit is best.’”
Chauhan resisted at first. His parents wanted him to get married, and they were scouting for a bride. But Singh promised attainment of God. He even traveled twice to Tohana to persuade Chauhan’s parents. “The guru would cite the example of Guru Gobind Singh” — the 17th century Sikh guru — “who sacrificed his life and family for the service of community,” Chauhan said.
He knew a minor surgical operation was involved, but Chauhan claims he never believed this meant castration. He said he still believed the hermits were “good people.”
Around that time, Chauhan said Singh caught a hermit passing a love letter to a sadhvi, a female ascetic. The sect has separate enclosures for men and women. Only the guru has access to female followers, and the correspondence infuriated the guru. He summoned his disciples to his chambers, where they found Singh shivering with anger, Chauhan said. In his tirade, Singh threatened to make them all eunuchs. Chauhan said he thought it was just something the guru blurted out of rage.
In September 2000, Chauhan and a fellow inductee were taken to Shah Satnamji Speciality Hospital in the Rajasthan city of Gursarmodia,
After the operation, Chauhan said, “ I sensed the portion under my penis was bandaged. I realized they removed my testicles,” he said.
Chauhan was hospitalized and then sent back to Sirsa. He was taken before the guru, who told him, “You are a real man now.” He gave his new hermits his old clothes, socks and caps to wear as a souvenir. “Cherish them,” he told them. “This is loot of love.”
In a petition before Punjab & Haryana State High Court against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Chauhan named the two doctors who performed his operation.
After Chauhan filed his petition, the court ordered a medical examination, which confirmed his castration.
Later, when I asked Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh about the castration allegations, he denied them and attributed the charges — and others — to “the drug mafia.” He said his anti-addiction campaigns have cost drug lords billions of dollars.
After the castration, Chauhan said Singh fawned over him and the other inductees. He was promoted to “A+ category,” the highest rank of hermits. “He would praise us in public, and we would feel good,” Chauhan said.
Chauhan said he frequently expressed his desire to leave the ashram. “I wrote 50 letters to the guru, but he never responded. I also frequently asked for permission to travel outside to buy musical instruments. But the guru would fetch me the instruments.”
An incident in 2008 firmed his resolve to leave. Chauhan asked the guru to be allowed to enroll in school. “What will you do with an education?” Chauhan said Singh responded. “You’ll not become a teacher. You’ll still be serving in the ashram.” Around this time, another hermit who was also denied education left the ashram.
One evening in 2009, Chauhan announced to his seniors he was leaving at all costs. They tried to dissuade him. But he was unmoved. Chauhan said the guru relented but said, “You’re leaving me but will come back.”
In 2012, Chauhan filed a lawsuit in the Punjab and Haryana High Court alleging that about 400 hermits were castrated in the ashram based on false promises by Singh that they would realize God after undergoing the procedure. Police in Sirsa began an investigation. They questioned seven incarcerated Dera Sacha Sauda followers, who also said they were castrated.
In December, dissatisfied with the slow pace of the police inquiry, the High Court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to take over. “Superstitions are now a constitutional anathema,” the judges wrote. “Courts cannot be privies to perpetration of harm on blind faith in the name of religion.”
In 1990, as Singh was taking charge, Ram Kumar Bishnoi, a senior hermit in the Dera Sacha Sauda, went to speak with the Sirsa police chief, V. Kamraj. Bishnoi had a suspicion that the managing committee of the ashram tricked the ailing guru Satnam Shah Singh into appointing Gurmeet Ram Rahim as his successor. “The committee members wanted to firm up their control of the ashram through the new guru,” he said.
But when Bishnoi went to the police, he said the chief told him, “Ram Kumar, you are alone. His followers are in the millions. It will be safer for you if you leave this place.”
Bishnoi, who has since quit the ashram, is among several former followers who have filed cases in court against Singh. His complaint seeks an investigation into suicides committed by ashram followers.
Bishnoi’s petition names half a dozen suicides which took place either in the Sirsa ashram or near the court complex in the city in 2011. This included the suicide of a sadhvi, a young female ascetic named Sonam Tyagi, who was studying to be a teacher, near the guru’s cave. The cave, Bishnoi’s petition alleges, has a door that opens toward the hostel where the sadhvis live. Two sadhvis have told the CBI in written statements they were taken to the cave by senior female ascetics and raped by Singh at sword point.
The Punjab and Haryana State High Court took up Bishnoi’s petition.
Bringing allegations is a brave thing to do. In at least two instances, accusers or critics of the ashram have died mysteriously.
In 2001, Ranjit Singh, a farmer in Kurukshetra, stopped allowing his daughters to go to Dera Sacha Sauda after a woman was allegedly sexually assaulted there. When an article appeared in a local newspaper condemning sexual exploitation at the dera, many members believed Ranjit Singh was behind it. On July 10, 2002, Ranjit Singh was returning home from bringing tea to his father in the fields when someone shot him in the head.
Less than four months later, Ram Chander Chhatrapati, the editor of a Sirsa newspaper called Poora Sach, or “complete truth,” was shot and killed following its publication of articles about alleged sexual assaults on female ascetics in the ashram.
Seven members of the sect are in jail and charged with the murders. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has also been charged with allegedly ordering the killings but is out on bail. A close aide to Singh had told the Central Bureau of Investigation that he heard Singh personally give the orders. In court, however, he recanted the statement.
Meanwhile, Singh has been busy working on a feature film, MSG: the Messenger of God, which portrays the guru as a superman vigilante, fighting against criminals operating drug and prostitution syndicates. The film’s teaser shows the guru driving motorcycles and punching criminals; a packed arena chants in unison as Singh stands before them, arms spread wide.
Gurdas Toor, the former colleague of Chauhan, said he always appreciated the work of the ashram — until Singh took over.
“My parents were followers of the sect since 1971. The sect helped my father quit drinking. Satnam Shah had christened me as well as my brother,” said Toor, now in his early 40s. He left in 2002, however, after he saw the guru imparting arms training to his senior hermits in his chamber.
He said he heard Singh tell them, “If somebody points a finger at you, I’ll cut that finger. How can you be silent about insult of your guru?”
Singh explained that he became a filmmaker to convey his anti-drug message to young people.
Singh receives government security cover when he travels, and when he appears in court, it is via teleconference: He fears someone will try to assassinate him in the Sirsa courtroom. Nonetheless, he has an assortment of private guards who are trained by retired police and defense personnel.
Ansul Chhatrapati, the son of the murdered journalist Ramchandra Chhatrapati, believes Sirsa police and Haryana state officials help the guru skirt court appearances and hearings with the Central Bureau of Investigation on security grounds. Chhatrapati and his lawyer Lekhraj Dhot allege Singh has obtained more than three dozen court appearance exemptions in that case alone between Dec. 22, 2007, and Sept. 20, 2014, and spends the time shooting films instead.
Singh denied all of this. “Barring one or two occasions, I’ve always attended the court proceedings. There was even an occasion when I attended the court daily,” he said.
The guru said his involvement in filmmaking is aimed at communicating proper values to India’s young people. “The youth listens to music. That is why I started singing. The films attract them. That is why I am acting in films,” he said.
Illegal activities: 2
Cadavers sent by Dera without death certificates
A Union health ministry note has mentioned as many as 14 bodies being sent from the Dera headquarters in Sirsa to GCRG Institute of Medical Sciences, a private medical college, “without requisite permission and death certificates“.
The note--a copy of which is with The Times of India--was written on August 19 [before Gurmeet’s conviction] and sent to the UP government. It says a hearing committee has mentioned that the “explanation offered by the college in obtaining 14 cadavers from Dera Sacha Sauda without requisite permission and death certificates is a serious issue“.
The committee was set up following an Allahabad HC order on a dispute over providing recognition to GCRG. Onkar Yadav, a member of the GCRG management, told TOI that a team of Medical Council of India (MCI) had inspected the college on August 16 and had found the 14 cadavers in the anatomy department.
During MCI's last inspection on January 6, there was only one cadaver in the institute, which led to an adverse report by the council as rules mandated there should have been at least 15, said Yadav. It is this finding that finds mention in the committee's report, which was quoted in the note to the UP government. The ministry has now debarred the college from admitting students for two years. The report, however, does not mention the cause that may have led to the death of these 14.
“Bodies were donated to us by followers of Baba Ram Rahim, who had been urging them to indulge in this noble activity . Dera followers have been donating bodies of their kin to many colleges. We have affidavits of all the 14 families who agreed to donate the bodies for research,“ he said.
Doctor Navneet Singh, head of anatomy department at KGMU, said, “Be it a private or government medical college, having death cert issued by a doctor or a hospital is mandatory along with consent letter of family. For unclaimed bodies, conducting post mortem examination is a must and a college can obtain such bodies only after police clearance.“
2018: Ram Rahim in jail, mother Naseeb controls dera
Naseeb comes to the dera headquarters from Ram Rahim’s ancestral home at Gursar Modia village to meet devotees
She is one of the most frequent visitors to Rohtak’s Sunaria prison where Gurmeet is jailed
In 2017, Naseeb announced that her grandson Jasmeet Insaan would be the next heir
With Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim behind bars for almost six months now, his mother Naseeb Kaur has emerged from the shadows and become the guiding force of this once-flourishing institution. Naseeb comes to the dera headquarters from Ram Rahim’s ancestral home at Gursar Modia village in Rajasthan’s Ganganagar district to meet devotees at least once a week.
Sources told TOI that the mother, who is in her 70s, is mostly seen on Sundays when dera followers gather at Sirsa for what is known as ‘Naam Charcha’ or religious discourse. These gatherings would attract thousands of followers earlier, but they are a comparatively smaller affair now and are conducted by placing Gurmeet’s picture on the pedestal.
The discourse is played on loudspeakers. Naseeb is seen at some big functions but then she returns to Gursar Modia. She is one of the most frequent visitors to Rohtak’s Sunaria prison where Gurmeet is jailed.
Gurmeet is serving out his 20-year jail sentence after he was convicted by the CBI court in Panchkula for raping two of his devotees inside the dera headquarters. A month after Gurmeet was convicted on August 25, 2017, Naseeb announced that her grandson Jasmeet Insaan would be the next heir. She claimed that the decision to anoint him heir was taken in 2007 after Gurmeet was entangled in a controversy over allegedly imitating the 10th Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh.
This was seen as a departure from the norm as none of the previous dera heads had declared their own children as heirs until then. In the last few months, Naseeb has become the face of the dera. Gurmeet, during his heydays, had often referred to her as ‘rajmata’, a sobriquet that some followers still use for her. Naseeb along with other family members has taken charge also because the 45-member core committee of the dera, which managed the affairs for a long time, has now become largely defunct.
Two of the most influential members of the committee, its chairperson Vipasana Insaan and spokesman Dr Aditya Insaan, have gone underground after they were identified as some of the key people behind the violence in Panchkula after Gurmeet was convicted of rape. While Dr Aditya had disappeared immediately after Gurmeet’s conviction, Vipasana went underground after the Panchkula court issued arrest warrants against her in January after cops submitted evidence of her role in the Panchkula violence.
PR Nain, vice-chairperson of the dera’s management committee, who was active even after Gurmeet was jailed, went underground after arrest warrants were issued against him along with Vipasana. Commercial activities within the Sirsa headquarters — including industrial units, a multiplex and malls — have not been started after the facilities were sealed in August last year, but six of the educational institutions have started functioning under the tight vigil of Haryana education department and the district administration. Besides these institutes, the Shah Satnam multispecialty hospital has also started functioning and treats dera followers.
See also the long section on 'Clout' on the page Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan
2012: Candidates from most parties seeks Dera blessings
With a few days left for polling in the state, more than 100 candidates belonging to the SAD, the Congress, the Sanjha Morcha and others visited Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa last evening to seek blessings of its controversial chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh whose sect has considerable following in Punjab, particularly in the Malwa belt.
Irrespective of party affiliations, the dera chief met the candidates on a single platform and did not oblige them with a separate audience.
The candidates had to cool their heels till the dera chief decided to address them together at around 7.30 pm.
He advised the candidates to be good human beings and strive to end female foeticide and drug abuse.
Keeping in mind the backlash that the dera followers faced in Malwa after the 2007 assembly elections when the SAD was virtually wiped out in the belt, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh did not meet the candidates individually.
The Left parties have always shunned Dera politics, but former CPI legislator Hardev Arshi, who is contesting from Mansa, chose to visit the dera this time. Among the SAD candidates who sought the dera chief’s blessings were Saroop Chand Singla, Mantar Brar, former DGP PS Gill, Surjit Kohli, Surjeet Rakhra, Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, Amarjeet Singh Sidhu, Darshan Kotfatta and Deep Malhotra. Singla is pitched against Harminder Singh Jassi (Congress), whose daughter is married to dera chief’s son.
Congress leaders Sunil Jakhar, Amarinder Singh Warring “Raja”, Ripjit Singh Brar, Avtar Brar, Jassi Khangura, Lal Singh, Gurpreet Kaur, Kewal Dhillon, Surinder Pal Singh Sibia and Isher Singh Meharban met the dera chief as did BJP’s Raj Khurana and Vijay Luxmi Bhadoo. Mohan Singh Phallianwala of the BSP and Hans Raj Josan, an Independent, were also present there.
PCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh and PPP president Manpreet Singh Badal have already paid a visit to the dera.
Talking over the phone, Ram Singh, member, political wing, Dera Sacha Sauda, said: “Nearly 100 candidates of various political parties met the dera chief in the evening, but no formal announcement has been made so far as extending support to a particular party is concerned”.
Ram Singh added, “The decision in this regard will definitely come, but it will take few more days. We have asked our members in all districts and blocks to send us suggestions so that a consensus can be evolved and an announcement made accordingly.”
Making a beeline for blessings ...
Saroop Chand Singla, Mantar Brar, former DGP PS Gill, Surjit Kohli, Surjeet Rakhra, Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, Amarjeet Singh Sidhu, Darshan Kotfatta and Deep Malhotra
Sunil Jakhar, Amarinder Singh Warring “Raja”, Ripjit Singh Brar, Avtar Brar, Jassi Khangura, Lal Singh, Gurpreet Kaur, Kewal Dhillon, Surinder Pal Singh Sibia and Isher Singh Meharban.
Raj Khurana and Vijay Luxmi Bhadoo
Mohan S Phallianwala
Hans Raj Josan
2017: Clout continues despite Gurmeet’s conviction
Undeterred by opposition's attacks on the issue of giving government grants to rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's Dera Sacha Sauda, Haryana sports minister Anil Vij on Friday said he would still go to the dera to seek votes. “Baba has been convicted, not the dera itself,“ he added. Rival politicians have been targeting the minister for giving financial aid to the dera from the government coffers. TNN
2019: Dera is Sirsa kingmaker even without MSG
He might be behind bars, but the shadow of the colourful and controversial figure who goes by the moniker Sant Dr Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan — and also ‘MSG’ after his film titled ‘MSG - Messenger of God’ — looms large over Sirsa this election. The leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda cult and his roughly 1.5 lakh followers in this seat hold enough votes to play kingmaker. Their support can make or break a party’s chances.
On April 29, thousands of followers visited the Dera headquarters on its foundation day. Dera officials claimed the number of visitors was in the lakhs. This show of strength, that choked the city’s roads, came as a timely reminder for political parties of the influence the group continues to hold among its followers.
Congress candidate Ashok Tanwar was one of the visitors that day. According to sources, the party is hopeful of gaining the cult’s support. “They have assured us of their support, even though there is no official announcement yet,” said a party member requesting anonymity.
It is not just Tanwar who has reached out to the community. Other parties, like INLD and BJP, have also sought their support. In the 2014 polls, the Dera had supported BJP in the state. By 2017, though, it had backed Congress in the state elections in neighbouring Punjab.
Many people TOI spoke to in Sirsa said there is resentment among Dera followers against BJP as they hold the party responsible for their leader’s conviction. Dera never had good ties with INLD, leaving them with Congress as the only option to support this year. However, Dera officials refused to comment on their intent, saying they haven’t decided yet whom to support. Ram Singh, chairman of Dera’s political wing, said that once a candidate or party has been selected, most Dera followers will vote for that candidate. “We first talk to our followers to understand which candidate they feel can help them in our charity and other projects. The responses are collated to decide which party or candidate to support. Many leaders have visited the Dera in the run-up to the elections, some of whom came only for spiritual reasons,” said Singh.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim is lodged in Rohtak jail after being convicted for murder and rape.
Sex with Baba was called his forgiveness
It was more than 10 years after their rapes that the two survivors finally recorded their statements before the judges in 2009 and 2010. These first-hand accounts of the sufferings of the two sadhvis eventually sealed the fate of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, leading to his conviction.
In their depositions on oath before CBI judges, the sadhvis had given the sequences of events, narrating horrifying tales of how the “powerful Baba“ used to rape them and other women of the dera inside his `gufa' (a customised underground chamber that was his personal residence).
According to these statements, copies of which are with TOI, the survivors stated that while raping, Gurmeet used to flaunt his `clout' and his status as `god'. They also disclosed that the word `maafi' (pardon) was the code used among disciples to describe rapes. Only female disciples were deployed to guard his underground living quarters, the statement said.
The survivors said in their depositions that most of the girls chose to stay inside the dera after being impres sed with his stature as a spiritual leader and also because their family members were his staunch followers.
According to one survivor, from Yamunanagar in Haryana, who deposed before special CBI judge A K Verma on February 28, 2009, she started living in the dera in July 1999 because of her brother, who was later murdered reportedly for seeking justice for his sister. The sadhvi said initially she did not understand when female disciples used to ask her whether she had been “granted maafi by pitaji“. This became clear when she was called inside the “gufa“ on August 2829, 1999, and raped by Gurmeet.
Another sadhvi deposed on September 9, 2010, that she joined the dera in June 1998 and was given the name Nazam by Gurmeet. A native of Sirsa, she became a follower because of her parents and used to teach at the dera.
In September 1999, when she was guarding the `gufa', she was called inside and raped by the dera head, who threatened her not to talk about the crime to anyone.
Shah Satnam Ji Specialty Hospital, Sirsa
Doesn't Have Necessary Registration [for such surgeries]
A hospital run by the Dera Sacha Sauda at its Sirsa headquarters was allegedly conducting illegal organ transplants and stem cell treatment.
The dera's website claims that the Shah Satnam Ji Specialty Hospital, spread over 1.25 lakh square feet, offers diverse facilities, including organ transplant. But, if the hospital was conducting corneal and organ transplant procedures as it claims on website, these would be illegal.
Under the Transplant of Human Organs Act, all medical institutions and hospitals performing organ transplant and running eye banks, must be registered with the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) or Regional Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (ROTTO). However, the 400-bed facility is not registered under either organisation. NOTTO director Dr Vimal Bhandari said, “This hospital is not registered with us.“ ROTTO authorities too had not registered the hospital.
As per `Saying Truth' monthly magazine run by dera, in 2014 the hospital doctors used stem cells from bone marrow in treatment of optic atrophy , caused when nerve of the eyes dries up. However, for any stem cell research, one needs permission from the National Apex Committee for stem cell research under department of health research, ministry of health and family welfare to prevent unethical practice.“No approval was sought from the panel from this hospital,“ said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, secretary , department of health research.
Only one doctor working in the hospital was registered with Indian Medical Association (IMA) of Sirsa. There are over 150 doctors registered with the IMA Sirsa. “We have no information about doctors working there nor do we have any authority to ask these doctors to register with us,“ said Sirsa IMA president Dr K K Goyal. As per IMA national president Dr K K Aggarwal, doctors have to be registered under Medical Council of India. Director general health services Dr Satish Aggarwal was not available for comment.District health authorities had no information about the working of the hospital.
Sikh clergy, rift with
2007, May 13: the first spark
May 13, 2007: the Dera chief attended a congregation at Salabtpura village in Bathinda, dressed in an attire similar to the one associated with Guru Gobind Singh. Within days, clashes had erupted between Sikhs and the Dera followers after the then Akal Takht jathedar (chief priest) Joginder Singh Vedanti issued a diktat, urging Sikhs to boycott the Dera Sacha Sauda sect head and his followers. (Indian Express)
Dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh sparked a controversy by purportedly appearing in the attire of the 10th Sikh guru in an advertisement in some newspapers. Dera followers and Sikhs have clashed in Punjab, Rajasthan and New Delhi over the [next] three days. (Rediff.com)
2007, May: widespread clashes
One person was on Thursday killed in a clash between Dera Sacha Sauda followers and Sikhs near Sunam in Sangrur district as tension mounted in Punjab after Sikh high priests called for a social boycott of the controversial religious group for allegedly insulting Guru Gobind Singh.
At least 22 people were injured in sporadic incidents of violence -- most of them attacks on Dera properties by Sikh protestors even as thousands of Sikhs laid siege to a Dera ashram in Salabatpura in Bhatinda district.
The Centre rushed paramilitary forces to Punjab and Sirsa in Haryana, where the Dera, which claims to have Sikh, Hindu and Muslim followers, has its headquarters. Its spokesman issued a veiled threat tonight that the Dera's supporters could not be kept in check if attacks on them in Punjab were not stopped.
Five high priests, who met at Talwandi Sabo Gurdwara near Bhatinda, gave the Punjab government time till May 20 to act against the Dera for its 'anti-Sikh activities.' After this period, Sikhs would be 'forced to act against the Dera,' they warned.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee, the apex religious body of Sikhs, was authorised to check activities of the Dera and its followers in Punjab.
Sikhs returning from the meeting at Talwandi Sabo allegedly damaged the boundary wall of a Dera property in Maur Mandi in Bhatinda district. No one was injured in the incident, ADGP (law and order) B Chandershekhar told PTI.
In Mansa, a chowk named after the Dera was demolished while a large number of Sikhs attacked a Dera property at Sunam in Sangrur district. Some persons were injured in this incident but no one was seriously hurt, he said.
Large numbers of Dera followers and Sikhs also came face to face near Salabatpur in Bhatinda district and police were present in strength to control the situation, he said.
Punjab police denied having issued any instructions for the vacation of Dera ashrams, a claim made by the group. Chandershekhar described reports on this issue on TV channels as a 'misinformation campaign' and said no such orders had been issued.
Police were taking steps to ensure the safety of a large number of Dera properties in the state, he said.
Parts of Punjab and Haryana continued to be tense for the fourth day on Thursday due to the stand-off between Sikhs and Dera followers even as the government advised the governments of these two states and Rajasthan to keep security forces on alert.
Sikh protestors organised marches at several places, including Patiala, Karnal and Yamuna Nagar, and a partial bandh was observed in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar. The shutdown was complete in the walled city around the Golden Temple.
Leaders of the Dera, after a meeting held at headquarters at Sirsa in Haryana, expressed anguish at the call for a social boycott issued by the Sikh priests and said the move will divide society.
The Sikh high priests, who met under the chairmanship of the Jathedar of the Akal Takht, Joginder Singh Vedanti, finalised a five-point 'hukamnama' (edict). Following protests from a section of the large gathering of Sikhs, Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahab, Balwant Singh Nandgarh, announced that the body had decided to give the state government an ultimatum to arrest the Dera chief by May 20 and to lock the Dera properties across Punjab.
Earlier at Talwandi Sabo when Vedanti read out the decisions, the Sikh gathering armed with weapons, including swords, started accusing the Takht chiefs of giving decisions mouthed by Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal.
Some among the crowd went wild and raised slogans against the decision. One of the followers of Damdami Taksal even threw a sword on Vedanti when he tried to come out of the stage. The sword, however, missed the mark.
In the border district of Gurdaspur, the AISSF took out a protest march in Batala and forced shopkeepers to close down their shutters and they held a demonstration in Gandhi Chowk.
Sikhs also protested against the Dera head in Lucknow with hundreds taking out a procession from Alambagh and later burning his effigy.
Police had to resort to baton-charge and fire in the air as hundreds of devotees returning from Talwandi Sabo attacked the Nam Charcha premises of Dera near Sunam.
According to unofficial sources, about nine persons were injured in the melee out of which four were referred to Rajindra Hospital Patiala in a serious condition.
Effigies of the Dera head were also burnt at Malerkotla, Barnala and village Bhalwan by various Akali outfits.
2007, May: Villagers demand action against pro-Dera school staff
Bathinda, May 31 (UNI) Residents of a village in the district have accused three staff members of a government school of 'promoting' Dera Sacha Sauda 'philosophy and culture' among the students and demanded action against them.
The residents of Nathana village have sought action against the three staff members of the Government Senior Secondary School. The villagers have also demanded that the three staff members who are Dera supporters be shifted. When contacted, the school principal confirmed receiving the complaint and said that an inquiry would be ordered. One of the accused staff member denied the allegation but admitted that he was a Dera follower. Meanwhile a report from Moga said that timely action by the police prevented a clash between Dera supporters and Sikhs in a village in the district.
2013: SGPC member declared ‘tankhah’ for attending Dera meet
Akal Takht edict violation
Navtej Singh Kauni is an SGPC member from Doda (Muktsar)
- He reportedly attended a Dera Sacha Sauda congregation at Bhullar village on May 16 during campaigning for Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections in violation of the Akal Takht edict
- Kauni said he had gone to the congregation to call on a person and not participate in it
- This is the second time Kauni has been awarded ‘tankhah’ for attending the Dera Sacha Sauda congregation
The Sikh clergy announced ‘tankhah’ to SGPC member Navtej Singh Kauni here today.
Kauni has been awarded ‘tankhah’ (punishment for religious misconduct) by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh for attending a congregation of Dera Sacha Sauda in violation of the Akal Takht edict,.
Following a meeting of the Sikh clergy at the Akal Takht Secretariat here, Giani Gurbachan Singh directed Kauni to perform ‘path’ of Japji Sahib apart from 'Nitnem' at Sri Darbar Sahib, Muktsar, besides listening to ‘gurbani’ for one hour and performing ‘sewa’ there daily for 18 days. He has also been asked to perform ‘ardaas’ by offering Rs 2,100, ‘apologising for his deed’ and then inform the Akal Takht Secretariat about it.
Kauni, an SGPC member from Doda (Muktsar), had reportedly attended the dera congregation at Bhullar village on May 16 during campaigning for Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections.
Reacting to the ‘tankhah’, Kauni clarified that he had not gone to the dera congregation to participate in it, but he was there to call a person.
Incidentally, this is the second time that Kauni has been awarded ‘tankhah’ for attending Dera Sacha Sauda congregation. Earlier, in March 2011, the Sikh high priests had directed him to clean utensils in the ‘langar’ hall of the Golden Temple for a fortnight. At that time, he had also pledged to follow the Akal Takht edict as per which the Sikhs were directed to boycott Dera Sacha Sauda after Dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh “hurt Sikh sentiments” by imitating attire of Guru Gobind Singh in 2007.
2015, Sept: Akal Takht pardons Gurmeet
The Akal Takht pardoned Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who had been accused of hurting Sikh religious sentiments after wearing an attire allegedly similar to that of Guru Gobind Singh.
Making a historic exception by exempting an ‘offender of Sikhs’ from appearing before it in person, the Akal Takht — the highest temporal seat of the Sikh religion — on Thursday finally pardoned Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who had been accused of hurting Sikh religious sentiments after wearing an attire allegedly similar to that of Guru Gobind Singh.
The Akal Takht said it had received and accepted a written “apology” from Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for the events dating back to May 13, 2007. Since then, repeated efforts to broker a truce failed to materialise as the Akal Takht insisted that Gurmeet Ram Rahim must appear in person and apologise.
In a press note, the Akal Takht said all five Sikh high priests had accepted the “written apology”. “A few days ago, the Akal Takht received a letter from representatives of the Dera Sacha Sauda head. Giving clarification, while using humble words over the 2007 episode…, the Dera head has apologised and said he could not even imagine copying Guru Gobind Singh. Following customs and tradition of the Panth, all five high priests of Sikhs have accepted this apology letter and clarification that he will not do any such act in the future, which can hurt sentiments of Sikhs and other religions,” it reads.
The Dera Sacha Sauda, however, did not confirm sending any such letter. “It is not in my knowledge. Let me confirm it,” Dera spokesperson Aditya Insaan said.
Former Akal Takht jathedars, meanwhile, strongly condemned the pardon. “Many letters of such clarifications were brought to the notice of the Panth while I was the Akal Takht Jathedar. But all these letters were rejected for two reasons: the Dera head never directly apologised and in fact justified what he did. And second, he never appeared in person,” said former Akal Takht jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti, who had issued the first diktat.
2017, Apr: Akal Takht summons 44 politicians for seeking Dera support
They had been found guilty by SGPC for seeking votes from Dera Sacha Sauda
In 2007, the Akal Takht had issued an edict for Sikhs to boycott Dera Sacha Sauda. On April 4 this year, the Akal Takht had summoned several Sikh politicians for violating the edict by seeking votes from Dera Sacha Sauda followers.
The Akal Takht had summoned 44 politicians based on a probe report submitted by the SGPC. The probe had found 29 politicians from SAD (Badal), 14 from the Congress and one from AAP guilty.
Many of these leaders, except former SAD cabinet minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon, former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (Congress), Congress MLA Ajaib Singh Bhatti and Arjun Badal (son of finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal), appeared before the Akal Takht and accepted the religious sentence.
IN A major setback to the Dera Sacha Sauda, many Sikh politicians from Punjab, found guilty by the SGPC of approaching Dera Sacha Sauda to seek votes before the Assembly polls, surrendered before the Akal Takht Monday and agreed to face religious punishment.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders also submitted a memorandum to the Akal Takht seeking action against former Punjab chief minister prakash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal for demanding votes from Dera Sacha Sauda during 2017 assembly elections. Both were not found guilty as per the SGPC probe report.
The Dera Sacha Sauda had announced its support to SAD for the Assembly elections. The dera had supported the Congress in the 2007 Assembly elections. The Congress had lost the 2007 elections and SAD lost in 2017. In 2012, the dera had not made any public announcement regarding its support. Then, Captain Amarinder Singh had openly asked for dera votes and the Congress had lost that election, too.
Sikh politicians not keeping their hair unshorn were also summoned at Akal Takht for violation of edict. As many as 21 politicians who don’t keep hair unshorn were asked to clean the heritage road leading to the Golden Temple in Amritsar as a group activity.
All these leaders will also perform volunteer services such as cleaning utensils, cleaning shoes and cleaning the floor inside Golden temple for one day. They will also have to organise Akhand Path of Guru Granth Sahib.
Those not keeping hair unshorn have been asked to perform similar volunteer services for 10 days at any gurdwara in their constituency.
SAD candidate Manpreet Singh Ayali contested that he never asked for votes from Dera Sacha Sauda and submitted proof in this regard. The Akal Takht found his submission “considerable” but he was also asked to present parshad at the Akal Takht.
The Akal Takht has asked absentees to appear at Akal Takht during the next meeting of Jathedars.
‘Politicians should be exempted from edict’
Congress MLA from Gidderbaha Amarinder Singh Raja Warring has said politicians should be allowed to visit every segment of society to seek votes.
“Politicians should be exempted from the edict that stops Sikhs from having any interaction with Dera Sacha Sauda,” said Warring.
He said, “When we came to know that Akal Takht has summoned us, we didn’t think twice from appearing. Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh also instructed us to appear at Akal Takht. All of us have huge respect for Akal Takht.”
‘Meditation, mantras cured many patients’
In an interview with India Today aired on December 23, 2014, Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim spoke to Rahul Kanwal about how people suffering from various diseases had benefitted after they sought his advice.
When asked that doctors viewed with suspicion Gurmeet Ram Rahim's claims that he could cure ailments such as cancer and paralysis with ease, the self-styled godman said that many patients had been cured through meditation and by chanting of mantras.
Rahim said, "Several people come to us also because they find the cure we suggested working wonders for them. In a case, a child specialist suffering from thyroid cancer had been told by doctors that he had only a few months left. We asked him to chant the name of Ram and treat ailing poor patients for free. He did as we asked him and today he is completely healthy."
The godman said that the allegation that we were cheating or fleecing people coming to us was unfounded as we were not charging them anything or asking them to quit a particular belief or religion. "We have never done anything like that and never will in the future. We explain our method of meditation in a satsang or in a prayer gathering, and not openly at random."
Violent followers' mobs
2010, Feb: CBI files murder case against Gurmeet, sect goes on rampage
Last week, the CBI had booked Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for the murder of sect Manager Faqir Chand in 1991.
Resenting the filing of a murder case against the Dera Sacha Sauda head by the CBI, the sect supporters went on a rampage on Saturday setting ablaze four trains and around 37 vehicles, including 27 buses, and vandalised property in several places in Punjab and Haryana.
Tension ran high in many towns in the two neighbouring states as police were put on high alert and Haryana requisitioned 1,500 para-military personnel to deal with the situation.
Patrolling was intensified in troubled-torn towns as Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Punjab's Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal appealed for calm.
The protesters set afire a compartment each of the Ferozepur-Ludhiana Sutlej Express, the Narwana-Kurukshetra train and two local trains after asking the passengers to disembark, a railway spokesman said.
They also vandalised railway property at Tapa, Moga and Kalaiyat in Punjab, he said.
The mobs torched and damaged 37 vehicles, 27 of them buses, including an air-conditioned one, in Bathinda, Mansa, Talwandi Sabo, Bhagapurana and other places in Punjab and at Kaithal, Sirsa and Fatehabad in Haryana.
In Moga, the protesters tried to set ablaze the District Administration Complex, housing among others the offices of the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP, prompting police to fire in the air to scatter them.
Over 200 villagers, with some of them firing shots, attacked a police station at Bhagapurana. They fled after the reinforcement reached there from Moga.
A post office was set on fire at Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda by some persons who also forced closure of shops and commercial establishments at Mansa in Punjab.
A report from Fatehabad said two empty buses, parked in a workshop of the Haryana Roadways, and a bill collection centre of the power department were also set afire.
The demonstrators blocked traffic on the Ambala-Hissar highway at Kaithal and on the Hissar-Delhi road near Hansi by by squatting on the roads.
Some persons set on fire a Delhi-bound Haryana Roadways bus near Mirzapur village in Hissar district after asking the commuters to alight.
Reserve police force, Punjab Police and paramilitary forces attached to Punjab police have been deployed across Punjab since Saturday.
In Haryana, six companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in addition to Haryana police forces in the violence-hit areas, including Fatehabad, Sirsa and Ambala, police officials said.
Leaves of police personnel posted in sensitive areas in Haryana has been cancelled till further orders, official sources said.
The violence also spilled over to Rajasthan, where followers of the sect set two buses on fire in Sriganganar and Hanumangarh districts after asking the passengers to disembark.
Following the incidents, security have been deployed in areas where Dera supporters have their offices and centres.
Railways have cancelled and suspended several trains passing through and originating from the two states for passenger safety and to avoid damage to rail property.
The move follows after miscreants damaged and set on fire several trains in the two states.
A report from Ambala in Haryana said Dukheri railway station on the Ambala-Saharanpur railway section was damaged by protesters late on Saturday night.
The cancelled trains include those passing through the Ambala-Saharanpur section, the Ferozpur-Mumbai Punjab Mail besides several others.
Several incidents of buses being set on fire were also reported. The damaged buses included one belonging to the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking at Mithapur village, about 10 km from Ambala.
A report from Fatehabad in Haryana said the Tohana railway station was set on fire by protesters.
Also at Phattu railway station, passengers of the Delhi-Bathinda Kisan Express protested after railway authorities suspended the train for onward journey to Bathinda in Punjab.
The passengers demanded that the train should proceed to the destination, but the railway authorities decided to send the train back to Hisar.
Violence, 2017: pre-planned havoc before and after verdict against Ram Rahim
The violence was planned in advance
One: Rs 5 crore funding for inciting violence
- Dera had pumped at least Rs 5 crore to fuel violence after sect chief was convicted for rapes.
- Apart from Panchkula, the dera had sent money to various places in Punjab.
- Dera followers were also told that they would get compensation in case of loss of life during violence.
PANCHKULA: The special investigation team (SIT) probing into the violence case involving key Dera Sacha Sauda+ members Aditya Insaan, Honeypreet Insaan and Surender Dhiman Insaan, on Wednesday revealed that the dera had pumped at least Rs 5 crore to fuel violence after sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted for rapes in Panchkula. The investigations revealed that dera's Panchkula branch head Chamkaur Singh was the key person in procuring and spending the money received from dera management. Chamkaur, a resident of Dhakoli in Mohali district, has gone along missing with his family after the registration of sedition case against him on the HC direction on August 28.
Like Panchkula, the dera had sent money to various places in Punjab, where violence had broken out after Gurmeet's conviction. Sources said the dera followers were also told that they would get compensation in case of loss of life during the violence.
Haryana director gene ral of police (DGP) B S Sandhu said, "One prominent person in the case is a horticulture scientist, who is also believed to have pumped money for inciting violence,"
The dera followers had started converging at Panchkula, where Gurmeet was to attend court hearing in rape cases against him, since August 23. Dhiman, Chamkaur and some local residents had arranged langar (community kitchen) for them.
Police said besides supervising the operations around the CBI court in Panchkula as well as the Naam Charcha Ghar, Chamkaur was also active in Sector 5 that was the epicentre of violence on August 24, a night ahead of verdict against the dera head.
Two: Telephonic instructions
Well before the arson and violence started in Panchkula on Friday [25 Aug 2017], Haryana police had intercepted various telephone calls and messages wherein instructions were being issued to Dera Sach Sauda followers to gather at Panchkula, where the verdict was announced by a CBI court, and “be prepared for violence“.
Panchkula commissioner of police (CP) A S Chawla said, “There are technical interceptions of phone calls from different districts wherein directions were being given to Dera followers to gather at Panchkula.“
Asked if the telephone interceptions had revealed directions to resort to violence, Chawla said, “There are many messages in which such directions have come.What has to be checked is whether it was the Dera's main leaders who issued the instructions, or followers.All this is serious business that needs to be looked into individually . But certainly there were indications from some of their top bosses and district heads for people to gather at one place.“ He added that police were trying to identify the culprits.
Chawla said telephone interceptions also revealed instructions to followers to not move towards the court premises on account of the strict vigil maintained there by security personnel. “Otherwise you (followers) would be caught,“ they are told.“Sangat aayegi, sangat badhti chali jaayegi. Fir [phir] chalenge,“ was one of the messages intercepted, as quoted by Chawla. He further said the interceptions would be handed over to the Punjab and Haryana high court as directed by the court.
Female [and other] followers’ threats of violence before the verdict
Tension prevailed in normally peaceful Panchkula, a day ahead of the expected verdict in a sexual exploitation case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, thousands of whose followers have descended on this Haryana town.
Dera Sacha Sauda has a huge following in Punjab as well as Haryana and both the states are on a high alert with supporters threatening to wipe out India if anything happens to him. Another said she is ready to kill and be killed .
On India Today Television: One of Baba’s young, rustic- accented female followers said that [it will not take us a second] to wipe ‘this India’ [is India ko] off the world map if [our father, Pita ji] receives even a scratch.’
An elderly women threatened, ‘If our Guruji’s honour and reputation is sullied even slightly, this congregation [sangat] will do what no one has ever seen or heard about.’
A young female supporter, more urbane, said, ‘If we [followers] know how to give our blood, we also know how to take [other people’s] blood. We will make rivers of blood flow’
2017, Aug: Security measures before the rape case verdict
- Mobile internet services to remain active in Gurugram and Faridabad, reports ANI
- An estimated 1.5 lakh Dera followers including men, women and children have gathered in Panchkula, where CBI court is set to deliver its verdict in a rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. "If they (Dera followers) try to enter Chandigarh, stern action will be taken as per the law," officials said.
- The Army has been put on standby in the highly sensitive Panchkula and Sirsa districts to deal with any law and order situation that may arise in the wake of Friday's court verdict involving head of Dera Sacha Sauda , Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
- Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar, assures him of adequate forces for security in the state, reports ANI.
- Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday said the state machinery was fully prepared for the court verdict against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
- Punjab government's offices situated in Chandigarh to remain closed on August 25, reports PTI.
Chandigarh, Haryana, Punjab besieged, petrified ahead of verdict
Paramilitary, Army To Tackle 1.5L Followers
The Manohar Lal Khattar government spent tense moments on Thursday , a day before a special CBI court gives its verdict in a rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. More than 1.5 lakh of his followers gathered in Panchkula, taking over the campuses of several government buildings and plunging the city into chaos amid a looming fear of violen ce across Punjab and Haryana.
Twenty-five columns of the Army and nearly 18,000 paramilitary personnel reached Panchkula even as mobile internet services were suspended in the city from Thursday . Net services would be restricted in Chandigarh from Friday . Over 700 government buses and 25 trains were cancelled as a preemptive measure. Troops were sent to Sirsa, the Dera headquarters. As Panchkula was in lockdown in fear of violence on the eve of the verdict in a rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Punjab and Haryana high court fumed over the total chaos in the city. Acting Chief Justice S S Saron said the court would not hesitate to dismiss the Haryana DGP . “We will not allow you to burn Haryana again,“ the HC observed, referring to the widespread violence during the Jat reservation stir in February 2016.
“We could not understand why such a large number of Dera followers were allowed to enter Panchkula despite prohibitory orders. Impression is that you are propagating them.Mr Advocate General, we will not hesitate to dismiss your DGP , if needed,“ Saron said.
Though Panchkula police commissioner A S Chawla blamed the Dera for the gathering in the city , saron said that there was “complete lack of will power“ among police personnel. “Either you do not want to prevent them or were instructed them not to do so.You allowed them step by step and in a systematic manner to enter in such large number,“ Saron said.
Later, a full bench directed authorities in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh “to ensure that peace and law and order is strictly maintained and those found violating law are dealt with sternly“.
Dera counsel S K Garg Narwana assured the HC that the followers in Panchkula would maintain peace and an appeal would be made to them to leave the city . Narwana read out a message from the Dera chief, stating that he would appear before the CBI court on Friday despite having back pain.
All schools in Panchkula would be closed on Friday . Traders downed shutters on Thursday and decided to shut business on Friday as well.
The `premis' -as Dera followers call themselves -have started camping near government buildings, in market complexes, parks and pavements in the city . With open spaces having no provision for toilets, the followers are defecating in the open, leaving the city stinking. They are drying their clothes on the cars parked in public spaces.
Incidents immediately after the verdict
- Malout Railway Station and petrol pump set on fire by protesters in Punjab post Ram Rahim Verdict, similar incidents also reported in Bathinda (ANI)
- Curfew imposed in Punjab's Bathinda, Mansa and Firozpur: TV reports
- Tear gas and lathicharge in Panchkula's sector 5 as crowds turn violent; bullets fired in air to disperse crowds: ANI
- Dera Sacha Sauda supporters attack media vans in Panchkula.
- The Dera head was present in court when the judgment was read out. A rape conviction carries a minimum sentence of seven years and a maximum of 10 years.
- The Dera head was present at the time of pronouncement of the order before the special CBI court judge Jagdeep Singh. After pronouncing the order, the court directed to take the godman into custody.
- Gurmeet Ram Rahim taken into custody. Quantum of sentence to be pronounced on Monday. (August 28)
- Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim held guilty by by CBI court.
- Punjab and Haryana high court has ordered that security forces should not hesitate from using "mighty force" to maintain law and order in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.
- Proceedings begin in CBI court, verdict expected by 3pm.
- Appeal people, especially Dera followers to remain calm: Haryana CM ML Khattar (ANI).
- A high drama prevaiiled when Dera followers clashed with police after they started assembly on Ambala -Kaithal road. The followers had tried to block the road.
- Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim's cavalcade reaches Chandigarh.
- Following curfew like situation in Zirakpur and Panchkula the entire area is wearing a deserted look since morning.
- Police say only two cars from Ram Rahim Singh's convoy will be allowed to enter Panchkula.
- There is peace in the region and everything is in place. Have faith in us, proceedings will take place peacefully, says DGP Haryana. (ANI)
- Dera followers cry and try to block Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's convoy in Sirsa; many Dera followers fainted as the convoy passed, reports ANI.
- Dera chief leaves for court. Over 100 vehicles in the convoy.
- 74 trains cancelled for today in the view of law & order situation in Haryana ahead of the Dera verdict.
The situation on the day after the verdict
1. The Army along with the police and paramilitary forces put up barricades at entry points of the Dera premises, where tens of thousands of Dera followers, including women and childen, stayed put despite an appeal by authorities to leave…
3. Dera chief 's 'Z-plus' security cover was withdrawn after his conviction in a rape case, Haryana Chief Secretary D S Dhesi said today. He also denied any special treatment being given to the Dera chief in a Rohtak jail after being held guilty in a 15- year-old rape case by a CBI court in Panchkula yesterday...
6. Total three people have died in Sirsa, taking the overall death toll to 31 since violence broke out after the verdict in the rape case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
7. District administration and police sealed two ashrams of Dera Sacha Sauda in Haryana's Kurukshetra.
8. Prison authorities denied reports of special treatment being accorded to Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim in Rohtak's Sunaria Jail.
"Some channels and papers are reporting on special treatment to Ram Rahim. I clarify he is in Sunaria Jail, not in a guesthouse. Ram Rahim Singh is being treated as any normal prisoner. No attendant has been provided and there's no AC in the cell he is lodged in," said KP Singh, DG Prisons (Haryana).
9. Western Railways on Saturday cancelled 6 trains and partially cancelled 2 trains in the wake of law and order situation in Punjab and Haryana. Overall, 661 Haryana-Punjab-bound trains were affected in the last five days, with 309 express trains being cancelled and 58 trains diverted or short terminated.
[Dance and music events in places as far away as Jammu were cancelled because equipment was stuck on the highway in Ambala. Sporting events were cancelled in Chandigarh and elsewhere. Considerable economic damage in Punjab, Haryana, HP and Jammu & Kashmir.]
Rs 126,68,71,700: Haryana's loss in dera violence
CHANDIGARH: Haryana suffered losses worth Rs 126 crore during the violence+ that had erupted after Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim was convicted of rape by the special CBI court on August 25, 2017, at Panchkula.
The loss includes damage to public and private property, revenue loss to various departments and expenses incurred on security. According to the revised gist of claims and losses incurred during the violence the state has suffered a loss of Rs 1,26,68,71,700 in all the districts. Ambala suffered the maximum loss of Rs 46.84 crore among violence-hit districts.
Fatehabad came in second with Rs 14.87 crore losses because of revenue loss and money spent on resources used to control the situation.
Panchkula suffered maximum damage
There was no damage to public or private property in Fatehabad. Another district, Sirsa, which houses the dera headquarters, suffered Rs 13.57 crore loss. The epicentre of violence, Panchkula, which witnessed maximum violence and led to the killing of 36 people in police firing, suffered losses worth Rs 10.57 crore.
Some of the districts, including Hisar, Jhajjar, Rewari, Narnaul (Mohindergarh), Palwal, Jind, Nuh and Yamunanagar, did not suffer any losses.
The details have been submitted by the Haryana advocate general to the Punjab and Haryana high court, which is hearing a matter related to the violence. The details have been submitted to the court by in the wake of an on-going petition filed by advocate Ravinder Singh Dhull.
On the basis of this petition, the court had issued several directions regarding maintenance of law and order in Punjab and Haryana ahead of Gurmeet's rape conviction.
Dera Sacha Sauda <>