By Kiran Deep, Roving Editor, Chandigarh
“To call woman the weaker sex is a libel. It is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power then woman is immediately man’s superior. Has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is the woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman” quoted Mahatma Gandhi the Special Judge(CBI)Jagdeep Singh while awarding 20 years rigorous imprisonment and fine of 30 lakhs to the Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in two rape cases.
The judge observed in his order that the Dera Sacha Sauda chief did not even spare his own pious disciples and had acted like Wild beast. He does not deserve any leniency. In other words, a man who has no concern for humanity nor has any mercy in his nature do not deserve leniency from the court The court of the view that if the acts of convict in sexually exploiting his own female disciples and intimidating them of dire consequences is taken note of then such kind of persons do not deserve any sympathy of the court.
The supreme court invariable has observed that the rape is not merely physical assault, it is destructive of the whole personality of the victim. Both the victims considered him God. However the convict committed breach of gravest nature by sexually assulting such gullible and blind followers. Such criminal acts of the Sirsa based dera sacha sauda chief(convict) are bound to shatter images of pious and sacred spiritual social, culture and religious institutions existing in this country since immemorial, which in turn reflects irreparable damages caused by the act of the convict to the heritage of the ancient land.
While presenting the female dera followers case, the CBI revealed to the court that dera chief(the accused) had raped the victims who had considered him like father and worship him like God. The Dera chief has shattered the faith and exploited both the victims physically and psychological. Both the victims were staying in dera and was under the custody of the dera chief. So the acts of the dera chief are no less than custodial rape. The convict has projected himself Godman and took undue advantage of his position and authority and had raped innocent girls. It is not ordinary but rarest of rare case which has large implications for the entire society and accordingly convict deserve maximum punishment for each count for which he is convicted, the CBI has submitted to the court.
The CBI also informed the the court that dera chief the convict is very influential figure and must be sentenced appropriately to send a deterring message for potential offenders and also give message to the society and in case of awarding lesser than maximum punishment sentence, it would shock the collective conscious of the nation.
Going into the background of the case, it all began in May 2002 when an anonymous letter of Sadhvi leveling serious allegations of sexual exploitation of sadhvis (female followers) was circulated in Sirsa. The letter was addressed to then Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, demanding inquiry against the Dera Sacha Sauda Chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, accusing him of rape of sadhvis in the Dera Sacha Sauda situated in Sirsa. This letter was published by Journalist Ram Chandra Chhatrapati in his evening newspaper “Poora Sach” on May 30, 2002.
The CBI has started probe in the case in December 2002 on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.The chargesheet in the rape case was filed against the Dera chief after recording the statement of the victims by the CBI in 2007. According to the CBI investigations, the two ‘Sadhvis’ (female devotees) were raped between 1999 and 2001. The Special CBI court had framed charges against the dera chief under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC in September 2008. The statement of the two complainants were recorded before the court between 2009 and 2010. Later the Special CBI court shifted from Ambala to Panchkula and the case against Dera chief was also transferred to Panchkula CBI Court. In July 2017, the court had ordered daily hearing and arguments of prosecution and defence were concluded on August 17, 2017.