There seems to be no end of the troubles for Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh who was on Friday convicted of murdering a journalist and is already serving a 20-year-term for raping two ‘sadhvis’. The CBI has already filed chargesheets against him in Panchkula’s CBI court in two more criminal cases one related to murder of Ranjit Singh, a senior functionary of the dera, and another pertaining to the alleged castration of his followers.
The Ranjeet Singh case will come up for hearing on January 19. CBI counsel in Ranjeet Singh case HPS Verma told The Sunday Express Saturday that “the process of evidences” has already been completed and now, the process of arguments will begin into the matter. The castration case will be heard on January 16, said Verma, who is representing the complainant in this case. The sect has been denying the allegations terming the same as “a conspiracy to defame the Dera”.
An anonymous letter, allegedly by a “sadhvi” addressed to the then Prime Minister regarding “sexual exploitation of sadhvis by ‘Maharaj Gurmeet Singh’ of the dera got into circulation in May 2002. In its chargesheet, the CBI maintained that the dera management, on the directions of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, launched a massive hunt for the persons who had written and circulated the letter.
According to the CBI investigation, Ranjeet Singh, a member of dera’s influential 10-member committee, was shot dead by Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s followers on July 10, 2002 on the orders of the dera chief, who had suspected his role in circulation of the letter.
Ranjeet Singh was killed when he was returning from his fields at his native village in Kurukshetra district. His father Jogender Singh, a former village sarpanch, fought a long legal battle but could not ensure justice in his lifetime and died in 2016 because of illness at the age of 80.
A family member of Ranjeet Singh had earlier told The Indian Express that “dera chief’s conviction in journalist Ram Chander Chattarpati murder case has revived their hopes of justice”. The family member had also stated that “no politician had mustered courage to help them against the dera chief despite repeated requests”.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had handed over the case to the CBI in 2004. The premier investigation agency had arrested three senior functionaries of the dera including its manager into the murder case. Two other accused Jasbir Singh and Sabdil Singh were earlier arrested by the Haryana Police in 2002 in the same case.
On the directions of the High Court in 2014, the CBI has probed the case related to castration of the dera followers. In February, 2018, the investigation agency filed a chargesheet against the dera chief and two doctors for alleged castration of “certain devotees/residents”at the dera headquarters in Sirsa. A former dera follower Hans Raj Chauhan had sought the CBI probe “into his castration and of 400 other men at dera headquarters”. He had alleged that Gurmeet Ram Rahim had “induced the petitioner (Chauhan) and several others with the hope that such emasculation would lead to realisation of God.”
On Friday, a CBI court convicted Gurmeet Ram Rahim and three others for the murder of Chattarpati 16 years ago. The quantum of sentence will be pronounced on January 17.
The 51-year-old sect head appeared before the court through video conference from Sunaria jail in Rohtak. After the conviction in the murder case, he now faces a minimum sentence of life, lawyers said.
There was violence in Panchkula and some other parts of Haryana and Punjab in August 2017 after Ram Rahim’s conviction in the rape case. The police opened fire and about 30 people, mostly Dera followers, were killed in Panchkula.