Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh or Bling Baba called his bedroom a cave (gufa), significant because gufas in mountains have long served as spaces for meditation for ascetics. Since Baba Ram Rahim called himself a saint, a cave seemed to be the natural moniker for his private quarters at the sprawling dera (ashram) spread over 700 acres in the town of Sirsa, in Haryana. But this cave will now go down in history as Rape Central, says India Today.
What has not been highlighted by the media and the law is the fact that Ram Rahim Singh could have raped over 100 other women at the Dera over the last 15 years. The letter written by one of the victims which resulted in the conviction of the godman about 15 years ago, clearly states that 45-50 women who were traumatized at the ashram would come forward to give evidence in the case.
A former security guard named Beant Singh, who claimed to be a former aide of the Dera chief for 15 years, said that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has murdered several people and has disposed off bodies in the near-by lake and some of them are even buried in the Dera headquarters.
He also said that the Dera chief is a known assaulter and has raped almost 90 percent of the sadhvis in the Dera were sexually assaulted or raped.
According to Bling Baba’s former aide, the sex maniac could have raped over 250 women over ten years.
He has also claimed that one of Ram Rahim’s prerequisites for women joining his sanctum sanctorum was that the girl should be a virgin. Only virgins were allowed to become part of Baba’s private circle, only to be deflowered later on by the beast, reveals Beant Singh.
According to an India Today report, people close to the dera tell a story that is salacious and intriguing at the same time. More than 200 women lived in the quarters surrounding Baba Ram Rahim’s cave. Around 30 of them in white robes and flowing hair. They were invariably new entrants into the circle and were literally groomed for that shocking private encounter that would scar them for life.
The others wore gerua like sadhvis do. The sadhvis or sadhikas flanked him everywhere he went. Especially to his daily sermons from a stage that looked like a film set. The baba, in costumes ranging from plain white to shimmering shiny ones, would be surrounded by the sadhvis.
Not many knew that, many of the sadhvis have been victims of his sexual violence. Baba Ram Rahim who promoted himself as the benevolent father figure who got sex workers married to his devotees had turned many unsuspecting young women into his private prostitutes.
The investigative agencies identified 24 of them and were able to track down 20 of them since the anonymous letter blew the lid off the sexual exploitation at the dera. They were now married and living regular family lives and didn’t want the past to complicate their present.
But from what we know from the testimonies of women who came forward emerges a pattern. The baba will pick a sadhvi (woman disciple), call them inside his cave bedroom and rape them. The act was called maafi in the closed circle of these exploited women. They often joked about who would be next to receive the maafi that the Huzoor Maharaj dispensed.
Maafi means pardon and Baba Ram Rahim had convinced them that saying no to his advances was a sin, since they had surrendered their tan-man (body and mind) to his godliness. That they belonged to him and only after surrendering their body to him can they be purified again. The act of rape had become an act of pardon and most women had resigned to their fate.
Those who resisted received threats of instant death. The man himself kept shiny firearms at an arm’s length in his bedroom in case any of the women resisted. They were rightly told that he had enough political muscle to get away with murder. The stories of devotees disappearing were not uncommon. Besides, most of these victims had their families devoted to the guru and in his cross hairs. They gave in lest their families should come in harm’s way.
The girl on whose complaint this whole thing came to light lost her brother to a bullet. The journalist who first published her anonymous letter was shot at point blank range. The girls were there because their families, who were blind bhakts of the baba, had sent them. For most, there was no option but to give in to the guru’s whims.
Baba Ram Rahim’s cave had a gate that was known to public and through which he drove his fancy cars into the building. The two other gates were used only by his private guards, always women, and the sadhvis or sevikas who attended to him. That included feeding and bathing the hirsute saint. The women’s quarters were guarded by men who were either forcibly castrated or volunteered to be neutered. So mind-blowingly harem-like.
An Aaj Tak reporter who had visited Ram Rahim’s private residence recalled seeing commando-style security guards, armed to the teeth, inside the building. Since he was provided Z+ Category security by the government, armed special forces from the Black Cat commandos guarded the complex where CCTVs cameras watched every movement of a visitor or a resident.
Ram Rahim’s sermons were power shows, often attended by celebrities and politicians. Apart from building an aura around him, this also helped silence his critics and victims alike. The latter spoke in hushed tones about his maafis (rapes) and kept to themselves.
This had normalised his sexual offences and would-be victims would accept his excesses as blessings. The older ones would stay on as sadhikas, but most would be married off to male devotees at some point.
In 2002, one of them wouldn’t take this lying down. She complained to her brother. The brother escaped from the dera with her. The two tried to approach authorities to file a complaint. That apparently was of no use.
She was a graduate, unlike most others who were hardly educated and belonged to poor families dependent on the dera. She wrote an anonymous letter to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The letter was published by a Sirsa newspaper. Two men on a motorcycle came to the editor’s house and shot him. Ramchandra Chhatrapati’s son Anshul carried on the battle of these women forward. An FIR was lodged and the CBI was asked to inquire into it.
Now to shield himself from rape charges, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had claimed he was “impotent since 1990”.
The charges in two rape cases pertained to August and September 1999. In the CBI court, Singh took a defence during trial that he was incapable of performing sexual intercourse since 1990 and therefore, there was no question of raping the two Sadhvis in 1999.
Recording his statement before CBI judge Jagdeep Kumar, Singh had said that “since 1990, the accused is not medically fit to do sex with anyone”, and that he was not potent.
Singh said that the rape charges were to be dropped alone on this ground since his claim regarding impotency has not been rebutted by the prosecution. The investigating officer, his lawyers said, never examined Singh for virility and hence, he must get the benefit of the presumption of innocence.
But a statement made by one of his own witnesses punctured Singh’s assertion.
The judge said Singh’s claim is devoid of any merit in view of a statement made by one of his own witnesses, who said the Dera Sacha Sauda chief had two daughters.
One of the hostel wardens had said that Singh’s two daughters were staying in the Dera hostel in 1999 and the CBI judge held that given this fact, the claim regarding impotency falls flat.
“This very fact speaks volumes about virility of the accused… at least two daughters have born out of loin of the accused,” said the judge, rejecting Singh’s defence.
Singh was handed down 20 years in jail — 10 years each in two rape cases — to be served consecutively.
Describing Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh as a “wild beast”, the CBI court had on Monday said that rapists such as him “do not deserve any sympathy”.
Special judge Jagdeep Singh said that Singh, disguising as a religious guru, has caused irreparable damage to the “heritage of the ancient land” and that he must get a deterrent punishment.
“When the convict did not even spare his own pious disciples and acted like wild beast, he does not deserve any mercy,” the judge said.
Singh, the court said, does not have any concerns for the humanity, nor does he have any mercy in his nature, which was reflected through his ravishing acts. Such a convict, the judge said, should not expect any leniency from the court in the matter of punishment.