Ram Rahim and Haryana Govt: A Love Story

By Ashwin Tombat
28 August 2017 00:35 IST

On Friday, the day of Goa's biggest religious festival — Chowoth or Ganesh Chaturthi — all hell broke loose in Haryana. Frenzied followers of Dera Sacha Sauda Guru Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insaan, who was convicted of Rape by a CBI court in Haryana's Panchkula town, went on a rampage, setting ablaze vehicles, buildings and railway stations, leaving 30 dead and over 250 injured.

A sadhvi complained that the Dera chief had sexually exploited her and other sadhvis, in 2002. After nearly 15 years, he has been convicted. The quantum of the sentence will be pronounced only tomorrow. It will be a jail term of not less than seven years, but could extend to life imprisonment.

The violence raged amid an apparent lack of action by the Haryana government. Just a day earlier, the Punjab and Haryana High Court slammed the government for allowing a massive build-up of Dera followers in Panchkula. The court said it did not want a repeat of the February 2016 Jat quota agitation, in which nearly 30 persons lost their lives and property worth crores was damaged.

But, notwithstanding the warning, the Haryana government continued to play loose and fast. Why? Because during the 2014 assembly elections in the state, the Baba had openly called on his one crore-plus followers to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state.

The government promulgated prohibitory orders in Panchkula, but Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma 'clarified' that Section 144 imposed in Panchkula “did not apply to Dera supporters”. He described Dera supporters as “simple, peace-loving people” who wouldn’t “harm even a plant”. Sharma is reported to have recently donated Rs51 lakh to the Dera.

 

Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij donated Rs50 lakh from Haryana government funds to the Dera’s sports project. Urban Local Bodies Minister Manish Grover also donated Rs11 lakh to the Dera from his discretionary fund. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar gave the Dera a clean chit, even after the High Court demanded that its premises be searched for illegal arms and ammunition.

The support does not end at the state. BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvarghia called on the godman at his ‘Teravas’ in Sirsa, accompanied by several Haryana ministers and MLAs, to thank him for his support in the Haryana assembly polls. Union Minister for Sports Vijay Goel had promised to support the Dera with central funds.

All these 'honourable men' knew that the Baba was charged with Rape, Murder and worse. In 2007, the CBI finalised three chargesheets against him for the murders of former Dera manager Ranjit Singh and Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati, as well as the sexual exploitation of female inmates.

In 2014, the Punjab and Haryana High Court handed over the probe into the alleged castration of 400 Dera Sacha Sauda followers to the CBI. Another probe was ordered into the mysterious disappearance, in 1991, of Faqir Chand, an accountant at the Dera Sacha Sauda. The CBI tried to close the case in 2010, but it was revived by the High Court in 2016.

In the face of all this comes this incredible statement from Unnao BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj. He said: "One person has complained of rape against Ram Rahim. Crores of others believe he is God. Is one person right or are crores of people right?  ...If big incidents happen then Dera supporters should not be held responsible; the court should be held responsible."

Just because crores of people support a person, is (s)he above the law?

Blogger's Profile

Ashwin Tombat

Ashwin Tombat has been the Editor of Gomantak Times and Herald. Worked as an Associate Editor of national magazine Gentleman in Mumbai, before shifting to Goa. Loves sailing, also participates in Marathons. Has worked as an activist in students's union and trade unions in Maharashtra. Also an artist of Street Theatre during student days.

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