The CBI court on Saturday ordered that charges be framed against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case. The Dera chief has been charged with sexually assaulting women followers of the Dera at the sect’s Sirsa-based headquarters. He has been booked under Sections 376 and 506 of the IPC. The CBI is also investigating two more charges against him for his alleged involvement in the murder conspiracy against Dera manager Ranjit Singh and a Sirsa-based journalist, Ram Chander Chatterpatti. Last year, he had raked up a controversy after he dressed like Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs. Unsurprisingly then, in our country where religion is interwoven in every aspect of social life, godmen and controversies are never very far apart:
July 22, 2008
• The Supreme Court gives life imprisonment to self-proclaimed godman Swami Shraddananda, accused of burying his wife Shakereh alive in their Bangalore house to usurp her massive property.
July 5, 2008
• Asaram Bapu Ashram, located on the banks of the Sabarmati in Ahmedabad, is visited by devotees for prayers, yoga and meditation. However, there has been little peace here since the mysterious death of two boys studying in the ashram’s gurukul. The boys went missing on July 4. Their mutilated bodies were recovered from the riverbed on July 5. With allegations of black magic doing the rounds, the city saw massive protests and demands of a CBI probe.
• Swami Sadachari, who mingled with politicians, was arrested in New Delhi for running a brothel. The once-influential godman, who is believed to have performed rituals at a prime minister’s residence, was nabbed only when he fell out of favour with those in power.
November 11, 2004
• Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal, the 69th Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, was arrested and charged with being a conspirator in the murder of a temple manager, Sankararaman. On October 26, 2005, the Supreme Court transferred the case from Tamil Nadu to Pondicherry.
July 4, 2004
• Five members of the Swadhaya Parivar, a socio-religious organisation founded by Pandurang Shastri Athavale, were arrested for allegedly clubbing to death a non-resident Indian, Pankaj Trivedi, on June 15. Two years before his death, Trivedi had written to Chief Minister Narendra Modi that he feared for his life at the hands of Parivar members. In his letter to Modi, Trivedi had spoken of the Parivar’s mismanagement of funds, including those collected for earthquake relief.
August 21, 1997
• Prem Kumar alias Swami Premananda, who ran an ashram in Tiruchirapalli district of Tamil Nadu, was convicted for rape and murder. The Supreme Court accorded the 57-year-old swami a double life sentence. He was convicted for 13 rapes and a murder in his ashram. Medical tests confirmed the rape of 13 girls in his ashram. One of them, Aruljothi, was pregnant and a DNA test established Premananda’s paternity. He was also charged with possession of unauthorised foreign exchange.
June 6, 1993
• Four people, reportedly armed with knives, were killed after they intruded into Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom. The intruders had killed two aides of the Baba. Sathya Sai Baba claimed that jealousy among his followers was the reason behind the incident, without giving a detailed explanation. A former secretary of the Home Minister of Andhra Pradesh, V P B Nair, said in a BBC documentary that the four assailants had unnecessarily and illegally been shot by the police.
Compiled by Rupinder Kaur
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