A special CBI court Thursday sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim and three others to life imprisonment in connection with the murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatarpati. Additionally, the court has imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 each. Since 2002, the former Dera chief has been named in several cases dealing with rape, murder, blasphemy and forced castration. Here is a list of all the case filed against the self-styled godman.
Sadhvi’s rape case
In 2002, an anonymous letter to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Punjab and Haryana HC chief justice alleged that the sect had sexually exploited two “sadhvis” and a case of sexual exploitation was registered against Gurmeet Ram Rahim.
The High Court then directed the Sirsa district and sessions judge to probe the allegations made in the letter. The matter was handed over to the CBI and a chargesheet was file five years later in 2007.
Following a decade long delay (between which the special CBI court was shifted from Ambala to Panchkula), the special CBI court held Gurmeet Ram Rahim guilty of rape and criminal intimidation in August 2017.
After Singh was convicted, the followers of the Dera resorted to violent protests in several parts of Haryana and Delhi. At least 41 people were killed in the violent clashes, mostly in Panchkula.
Three days after the conviction, the quantum of sentence was announced and the Dera head was sent to prison for 20 years, 10 years each separately in the two rape cases.
At the time of sentencing, the judge ruled that the Dera chief did not deserve “sympathy of the court” since his victims had placed him “on the pedestal of ‘god’ and revered him” but “he did not even spare his own pious disciples and had acted like a wild beast”. The judge also ordered a compensation of Rs 15 lakh each to the two victims.
Sirsa journalist murder case
A Panchkula court on January 11 convicted the jailed self-styled godman and his three followers – Krishan Lal, Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal Singh – to prison in the case pertaining to the murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati.
Chhatrapati (51), was shot dead at his house on October 24, 2002, after his newspaper, ‘Poora Sach’, published an anonymous letter narrating how women were being sexually exploited by Gurmeet Ram Rahim at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa. The journalist later succumbed to injuries and a case was registered in 2003. The case was handed over to the CBI in 2006.
Speaking outside the CBI court, the agency’s counsel HP S Verma had said, “Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and his former manager, Krishan Lal, was held guilty under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) read with Section 302 (murder) of IPC. Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal Singh was held guilty under Section 302 (murder) of IPC read with Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC. Kuldeep Singh and Krishan Lal were also held guilty under Section 25 and Section 29 of Arms Act, respectively.”
Ranjit Singh murder case
After the anonymous letter alleging, “sexual exploitation of sadhvi’s” by the Dera chief got into circulation in May 2002, the Dera management launched an extensive hunt to find the person behind the act. Ranjit Singh, a member of Dera’s influential 10-member committee, was shot dead by Ram Rahim’s followers in July 2002 after he was suspected of playing a role in the circulation of the letter by the Dera chief.
Singh was shot when he was returning from his fields at his native village in Kurukshetra district. The murder case was handed over to the CBI by the Court in 2004.
After a long legal battle, the CBI has filed a chargesheet and the case is scheduled for hearing on January 19. Speaking to The Indian Express, the CBI counsel in the case HPS Verma told that “the process of evidence” has already been completed and now, the process of arguments will begin into the matter.
A case against the Dera chief was registered for hurting religious sentiments of the Sikh community by allegedly performing an imitation of Guru Gobind Singh during a ceremony at the sect’s Dera in Salabatpura in Bathinda district. The case was registered on the complaint of Rajinder Singh on May 20, 2007. Though in 2014, a Bathinda court acquitted the Dera chief but a revision petition was filed in 2015.
A case relating to the alleged castration of 400 devotees was registered in 2015 on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court after hearing a petition filed by the Dera chief’s former follower Hans Raj Chauhan.
The HC orders came on a writ petition filed by a Dera follower in 2012, demanding a CBI inquiry and compensation for his castration at the Dera in 2000, a CBI spokesperson had earlier said.
The petitioner, Hansraj Chauhan, has alleged that around 400 male devotees belonging to many states including Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan were castrated at the Dera headquarters after its head falsely claimed that the “castration would lead to realisation of God through him.”
On February 1, 2018, the CBI had filed a chargesheet against Dera Sacha Sauda chief and two accomplices – Doctor Pankaj Garg and Doctor MP Singh, regarding the same. The case is presently being heard.