A day before a CBI court in Panchkula pronounces its verdict in a rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, one of the complainants told The Indian Express that she is hopeful that her long wait for justice will end Friday.
“Hamney to suna hai, ye India hai, yahan aasani se nyay nahi milta hai. aur woh bhi jab ladai ek powerful ke khilaf ho. Paise wala kuch bhi kar sakta hai yahan. (We have heard it’s not easy to get justice in India, especially when the fight is against a powerful person. A person who has money can do anything here),” said the complainant, a former sadhvi at the dera.
Tears in her eyes, she added, “But I have trust in this system till now. Umeed ki kiran hai (There is a ray of hope). We have fought so long for justice, only because the guilty should be punished 100 percent.”
“Fortunately, this case was handled by honest officers from CBI. They have tried their best to ensure justice to us. That’s why we have hope,” said the complainant.
The CBI had lodged the FIR against the dera chief in 2002. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had referred the matter to the agency after an anonymous letter purportedly written by a sadhvi began circulating. In the letter addressed to the PM, Haryana CM and Chief Justice of high court, the sadhvi accused the dera chief of raping her and other sadhvis and pleaded for an inquiry. Before referring the matter for a CBI probe, the high court had taken a report on the matter from the District and Sessions Judge of Sirsa.
The CBI subsequently succeeded in locating two sadhvis who deposed before a trial court that the dera chief sexually exploited them. In 2008, a CBI court ordered framing of rape charges against the dera chief.
The complainant alleged, “My life has changed after I gave the statement. I can’t move freely. There is danger to my life. I am also apprehensive about lives of my family members.”
“Nothing can happen in the dera without permission of the ‘Baba’ because of his terror. I have heard that if somebody speaks against the Guru, he should be lynched. The followers take his preachings as message of God. The dera chief gives money to followers if they influence their relatives and others to join the dera”.
She said dera followers had more faith in “baba” than their children. “If anybody complains against the dera chief, their parents would tell them, ‘you are wrong’. Many other sadhvis want to leave the dera, but they can’t because of the terror. If somebody dares to speak against the dera chief, he or she is subjected to atrocities. We have even heard that a girl’s backbone was broken,” she alleged.
Asked how she mustered courage to speak up, she said, “I wanted to expose him. We were pressured and money was offered to us to change our statement”.
Responding to the allegations, Dera spokesperson Dr Dilawar Insan said, “The case is underway. We don’t want to say anything at this stage. A senior dera functionary said, “These are concocted stories. How can a person be held guilty on the basis of an anonymous letter?”