The Haryana police and paramilitary forces have begun the search and sanitisation operations inside the Dera Sacha Sauda’s headquarters at Sirsa on Friday morning. The operation is being conducted under the supervision of a retired District and Sessions Judge Anil Kumar Singh Panwar, who entered the dera premises at 8:35 am on Friday. However, the police forces had entered the dera early in the morning. Panwar has been appointed as Court Commissioner by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to monitor the search operation.
The sources have hinted that the sanitisation process could easily last a couple of days as the sprawling dera is spread in about 700 acres of land. Over a dozen blacksmiths have also been hired to break the numerous locks inside the Dera. Forty-one companies of central forces accompanied by sniper dogs will keep a strict vigil on security inside and outside the dera. Curfew has been imposed in areas surrounding headquarters in Sirsa which will continue till search operations last. Meanwhile, the media and public have been barred to enter the campus.
There is a lot of suspense over a suspected Gufa (cave) inside the dera where the dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had sexually exploited the sadhvis (female followers). Two victim sadhvis, who had shown courage to speak against the dera chief, had told the court that the baba had raped them inside the gufa of the dera. During one of the court hearings, one victim had identified Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who had appeared before the court through video conferencing.
“I used to reside at the Girls’ hostel of the Dera and Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had renamed me as ‘Nazam’…Sadhvis used to perform duty as guard at the door from Girls’s hostel to Gufa from 8 pm to 12 in the night and from 12 in the night till 4 pm,” the Sadhvi had told the court. She had clarified that by “Gufa”, she meant the place where the dera chief used to reside. She further deposed that in September 1999, she was deputed on duty as guard from 8 pm to 12 in the night outside the gate of the Gufa and at around 10 pm, the Baba came out of the gufa and called her inside the Gufa where he raped her.
However, the dera management has made it clear that there was no Gufa inside the dera and the residential place of the dera chief was called the Gufa. “The place where the saints used to meditate is called Gufa and in the same manner, the residence of the dera chief was called as Gufa by the dera followers. A place which is being projected as Gufa by the TV channels is actually a way to the dera resort, ” said an official of dera’s media wing.