Rape Case Against Ram Rahim: Story of Nameless Letter, 2 Murders
Chief of Dera Sacha Sauda Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
Chief of Dera Sacha Sauda Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.(Photo: The Quint)

Rape Case Against Ram Rahim: Story of Nameless Letter, 2 Murders

The situation in the states of Punjab and Haryana has suddenly become tense as a CBI court in Panchkula held Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS) chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty of rape on 25 August, Friday.

The rape case dates back to 2002, and is based on the accusations of two women, who used to be members of the DSS, that they were sexually exploited by the spiritual leader at the headquarters of the sect in Haryana's Sirsa.

It is estimated that over a lakh followers have already congregated in the Haryana town. Security has been stepped up in both the states as large-scale violence can break out in light of the verdict.

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Regarded as a spiritual leader, Singh and his organisation Dera Sacha Sauda commands a veritable following (60 million faithfuls, according to its website), especially among Dalit Sikhs.

Here is a brief timeline of how the case against him has unfolded in the course of 15 years.

Also Read: Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s Pardon by Sikh Clergy: A Political Move

Rape Allegations And Two Murders

The rape allegations against Singh date back to 2002, when a sadhvi, who was part of the organisation, anonymously sent a letter to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee narrating how Singh raped her along with various other sadhvis.

A Hindustan Times report outlines the contents of the letter, in which it is described how a sadhvi was summoned into the Ram Rahim's room one night.

The spiritual leader possessed a revolver and a pornographic film was running in the background. The woman said she was sexually assaulted for three years, and 35-40 other women suffered the same fate.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo motu cognisance of the explosive letter, and the matter was subsequently referred to the CBI in September 2002. Eighteen sadhvis were questioned by the investigating agency and two of them levelled allegations of rape against the spiritual leader. One sadhvi said that her rape was justified on the grounds that it would “purify” her.

The CBI recorded the testimonies of the two women under Section 164 of CrPC, which implied that these statements could be produced in court as evidence.

Meanwhile, the killings of DSS member Ranjit Singh on 10 July 2002 and journalist Ram Chander Chattrapati on 23 October 2002 made the case even murkier, with Ram Rahim named as an accused.

While Chattrapati – the editor of Poora Sach, a local daily from Sirsa – reported on the nefarious happenings within the DSS, Ranjit Singh was believed to have been involved in the drafting of the anonymous letter making rape allegations against the DSS chief.

‘Not Fit to Indulge in Physical Relationships’: Ram Rahim Consistently Denied Charges

Five years after the rape case had been filed against Ram Rahim Singh, a chargesheet was registered by the CBI on 30 July 2007.

The trial against the spiritual leader commenced in 2008 and on 6 September 2008, he was charged under Section 376 (rape) and Section 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. 

In April 2011, the CBI court was shifted from Ambala to Panchkula.

Meanwhile, the godman has consistently dismissed the charges against him as false and baseless. In 2014, he even conveyed to the Panchkula court that “he was not fit to indulge in physical relationships”, according to his counsel SK Garg Narwana.

Now, a decade after the trial began, the case is expected to reach its culmination on Friday.

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