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Ram Rahim Conviction: The Beginning of the End of a Mighty Empire

With baba behind bars, and no succession plan in place, uncertainty looms large over the Dera’s future.

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The conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim for rape, and the ensuing violence unleashed by his followers, could signal the beginning of the end of the mighty empire created by the flamboyant baba.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the respective governments to prepare details of the properties, bank accounts and other assets of the Dera for attachment.

Although it will take a final call on the issue on 29 August, it has made clear that the Dera would be made to pay for damages, both to public and private property, as well as to pay for the expenditure incurred on deploying security forces to control the mob.

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The Dera is known to have hundreds of properties in different parts of the country and abroad, but particularly in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. Its headquarters at Sirsa in Haryana is spread over an area of 700 acres.

The sprawling campus has not just residential buildings, but shops and restaurants, multiplexes, a state-of-the-art hospital, besides schools, colleges and an Olympic-size auditorium. The complex has a self-sustaining dairy and vegetable and fruit production.

A little distance away at Salabatpur is the old ashram premises, which was used by Gurmeet's two predecessors, Mastan Singh and Satnam Singh. Before that there are scores of namghars, or community centres to hold prayers and social gatherings of the devotees.

‘Dera Must Pay For Damages’

The High Court, while coming down heavily against the Dera followers for violence and the Haryana Government for its failure to control the situation, has made it clear that the Dera shall have to pay for the damages. While strictly indicting the Manohar Lal Khattar government, it said:

You allowed the city to burn for political gains. It seems the government has surrendered to agitators.

With the baba likely to remain behind bars, and no succession plan in place, uncertainty looms large over the future of Dera. And if all properties of the Dera are seized or sealed, the followers may find it difficult to regroup and carry on the activities in a coordinated manner.

Incidentally, the Dera removed the list of properties it has from its website soon after the High Court indicated its intentions for the Dera to be penalised for damages caused by its supporters.

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With baba behind bars, and no succession plan in place, uncertainty looms large over the Dera’s future.
A DTC bus set on fire by followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim after his conviction in a rape case, in New Delhi.
(Photo: PTI)
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Who Succeeds Ram Rahim?

Ram Rahim has a son, Jasmeet, who owns a business, but he is not active in the Dera. In any case, there is no dynastic succession by which his son could helm the organisation. All of Rahim’s daughters are married, but he has "adopted a woman as his daughter" who also plays his heroine in the films released by him recently. A man belonging to Panchkula had claimed that the woman was his wife and had been forcibly taken away by the baba who had known her before his marriage to her.

The baba has some trusted followers, including the Dera spokesman Dr Aditya Insan, who may look after the activities of  the Dera till the baba himself gives directions on the future control of the empire created by him.

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The ‘Ram Rahim’ Persona

Dr Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh ji Insan, as his social accounts describe him, had built himself a larger-than-life persona. Of late, he had successfully used the medium of feature films to make him seem invincible.

The kind of stunts he had performed, which his aides say he had done himself without any body doubles or assistance, would put top Bollywood and Hollywood stars to shame.

His devotees had been queuing to watch his movies which, as per the Dera claims, had raked in hundreds of crores. All the movies remained “House full” and it was alleged that bulk bookings had been done for the purpose.

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With baba behind bars, and no succession plan in place, uncertainty looms large over the Dera’s future.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan in MSG 2.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@MSGTheFilm)
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Of course, hardly anyone other than the Dera supporters, who call themselves ‘premis’ (lovers) ventured to see the films. They even showered flowers and repeatedly shouted slogans to the glory of their guru during the shows.

His conviction has given them a major jolt as they firmly believed that he was invincible and could do no wrong.

With a long term behind bars for the baba all but assured, and the judgments in cases pertaining to the killings of his driver and a journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati pending, and the forced castration of some devotees coming to prominence, this will be a long haul for Ram Rahim and the Dera.

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