Till last year, he was a God for lakhs of his followers. But after his conviction in a rape case, Gurmeet Ram Rahim is now just an ordinary prisoner among the 1350-odd inmates of Rohtak’s Sunaria jail. Qaidi no. 8647, Gurmeet, is not allowed to interact with fellow inmates. “He is not even allowed to use jail’s telephone. This facility can only be extended to an inmate after police’s clearance. Prisoners likely to misuse this facility are not allowed to use the telephone service,” a jail official says.
Dera chief’s foster daughter, Honeypreet, who is facing sedition charge, is also not allowed to make calls from the Ambala jail campus where she is currently lodged. The dera chief is in the jail since his conviction on August 25, 2017. Days after his conviction, he was awarded 20 years in jail by the trial court judge who had visited the Sunaria jail from Panchkula to announce the punishment.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Haryana’s Jail’s Minister Krishan Lal Panwar said, “He is being treated as a normal prisoner as per jail manual. No special facility is being given to him.” “We keep changing his barrack because of security concerns. Like other inmates, his barrack is also opened at sunrise and closed at sunset. He earns Rs 40 daily as labour for growing vegetables. He follows instructions and doesn’t complain about anything. He performs yoga and meditation daily. His family members and lawyers meet him as per the jail manual’s provisions. On his request, we have provided him the religious books,” said Jagjit Singh, Inspector General of Prisons (Haryana).
“A senior officer from the prisons department visits Sunaria prison every month and conducts inspection,” he said.
Director General of Police (Prisons), K Selvaaj, said he had also visited the jail once and interacted with the dera chief. The Sunaria jail received hundreds of postal cards that dera chief’s followers sent him on August 15, the day he celebrates his birthday.
A prisons department official said the state government had started looking for a “suitable job” for the dera chief two years ago before the court held him guilty on rape charges last year. In May this year, a visit by Haryana Prisons minister Krishan Lal Panwar to Sunaria jail and his meeting with Gurmeet Ram Rahim had earned him the wrath of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. Sources say Khattar expressed his displeasure to Panwar. However, Panwar says, “It’s the Chief Minister only, who gave me the portfolio of prisons. As the minister in charge of the department, I can inspect any jail”.in Rohtak jail