THE SELF ACCLAIMED ‘MESSENGER OF GOD’: GUILTY OF RAPE By Kanika Jaggi from Symbiosis Law School, Pune
With various important judgments being delivered by the Indian courts including verdicts relating to unconstitutionality of triple talaq, and right to privacy being declared as a fundamental right conferred by the constitution, courts have climbed up the ladder of historic judgments swiftly. The third biggest development is the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for rape.
Today we witness massive commotion among people as the special CBI court has sentenced the ‘godly’ public figure to 20 years of imprisonment after finding him guilty for rape. A contrary wave of commotion had begun in the year 2012, when an innocent young woman was gang-raped by 5 brutal men. It seems like the masses just follow the herd, without applying their minds. An awakening that had struck Indians 5 years ago has blurred again and the followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief are blindly causing ruckus, vandalism and fatal riots in the districts of Punjab and Haryana.
Guru Ram Rahim, who hailed from the State of Rajasthan, conferred succession of the spiritual leadership upon the socio-spiritual organization in the year 1990. Popularly known as the ‘rock star baba’, he has a large number of following on social media as well. The baba owns a convoy of luxury vehicles and also has a product line of his own. He identifies himself as an all rounder.
The controversy started 15 years back when the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court received anonymous complaint letters alleging sexual assault by the guilty. As a result, an inquiry was conducted and the case was handed to the CBI. Consequently, the CBI charged the guilty under Sections 376, 506 of the Indian Penal Code for rape and criminal intimidation. Finally, in the year 2007, the CBI filed a charge sheet in the court against Gurmeet Ram Rahim. As a result of the proceedings that started in 2011, the court announced its verdict on August 28, 2017 sentencing the Dera chief to two consecutive 10 year jail imprisonment in two rape cases along with a fine of Rupees 15 Lakh each.
Such instances are countless where the powerful put undue influence on their fiduciaries to commit wrongful acts. However, there are few occasions where the feeble and the oppressed are heard and provided with justice. It has been revealed by the victimized ‘sadhvis’ that ‘maafi’ was the code word used instead of rape by the baba. Only female disciples were allowed to enter inside the baba’s gufa, which was his personalized underground chamber, for him to subsequently rape them. Another scarring case, which runs parallel to Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s case, is that of Asaram’s. According to sources[i], Asaram asked one of his ‘sevikas’ to offer her to him, as he claimed to be her God. It seems as if these ‘god-men’ use faith as a weapon to commit such horrifying offences against women.
The CBI judge Jagdeep Singh, who passed the sentence, stated that the Dera chief is a wild beast and deserves no mercy[ii] and put him behind bars. Jagdeep Singh is described as very competent, tough and upright judge among his colleagues. Although the decision has been much appreciated by the society, it is however been criticized for taking 15 long years to decide Rahim’s fate. Backlog of cases in courts and delayed justice have been accepted as shortcomings of the judiciary, which needs to be looked into. Inspite of the case being dealt by the CBI special court and not the common courts, 15 years is a long gestation period for disposing off a case.
India is a land of rich culture, heritage and religion. Religion is a very sensitive and controversial front, which is the cause of many disputes and communal riots. Men clad themselves differently in the name of religion and become ‘gurus’ and ‘babas’. Blindsided by their unique styles, people tend to believe whatever and however they preach. They use it as a tactic to befool people and take undue advantage of their vulnerability. Under this cover, they commit such crimes and call themselves God. However, the sorry state is that even adults and parents give in and push their sons and daughters into the pit. Eventually, these misrepresenting men become so powerful and popular, that none of their actions are considered wrong. Instead of the court convicting Rahim, he still has so many followers supporting and consoling him. Furthermore, this promotes objectification of women and upholds the truth of patriarchy.
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