By Kiran Deep, Roving Editor, CHANDIGARH
It was herculean task to crack the rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. The dera chief is dangerous man and no one really wants reveal anything against him fearing threat to their lives. The case was handed over to the CBI Additional Superintendent of police(ASP) Satish Daggar in 2004. Daggar who was posted then DSP in Chandigarh had just an anonymous letter carrying serious allegations of sexual exploitation of sadhvis against politically patronise dera chief to solve the case. After his much persistent and efforts, two brave heart female dera followers (Sadhvis) had agreed to reveal truth against the dera chief. Salute to these two female dera followers who dare to expose the dera chief. The dera chief was sentenced to 20 years rigorous imprisonment in two rape cases on August 28. In addition to it, the dera chief has also been alleged to involve in the murder of Journalist Ram Chandra Chhatrapati and Ranjit Singh. Both the cases are pending before the CBI Special Court, Panchkula.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the CBI to investigate the case taking suo moto on the anonymous letter send by Sadhvi in 2002. As per the CBI’s directions, the manager of the Dera Sacha Sauda Sirsa Inder Saini provided the three lists of the female dera followers residing in different places in dera include 52 female dera followers in Shah Satnam ji girls hostel, 80 in Ashram Dera Sacha Sauda and 24 sadhvis who had left the dera between 1997 to 2000. These lists were received by the CBI on February 23, 2005.
But the terror of the dera chief was such that none of the girl out of 130 residing in the dera permanently dare to reveal sexual exploitations of sadhvis to the CBI. They were physically and also mentally under control of the dera chief. But this did not stop the CBI to probe the case. Then CBI concentrates on the list of sadhvis who had left the dera between 1997 to 2000. Out of 24 who had left the dera, three were not traceable due incorrect address, three were returned to dera while the CBI had managed to trace 18 sadhvis. But the problem was that these 18 were got married and some of them even had Children and settled in their life. Some of them told the CBI that the dera chief was very dangerous man in case and they would apprehend threat to their lives if they reveal the truth.
But the CBI hard work revealed the results, when two brave female dera followers agreed to expose the dera chief. It was not an easy task as even when I was covering this case, the CBI had very hard time because in laws of one of the female dera follower who had complaint against the dera chief were hardcore followers of the dera. Sadhvis was under tremendous pressure from dera chief to withdraw her statement. The situation was deteriorated to the extent that she along with her husband had to left their in laws house and to move some safer place. But despite all odd, the female dera follower stood by her statements and exposed the dera chief that he had raped her. Similarly second sadhvi whose brother had murdered by the dera men on the directions of the dera chief have also shown exemplary courage to expose the dera chief.
I have been covering this case since 2006. I was in The Tribune and was posted in Sirsa when I had started covering this case. Even after leaving The Tribune, this case has always been core to my heart and covered this case in different organisations. During the investigation and hearing of the case, I had chance to observe the CBI SP Satish Dagar. Many times during informal discussion, I had asked Mr Daggar “What is the source of his strength as he is fighting a case against the powerful person. What he said was amazing “ I am investigating a case based on the facts, evidence and no one is powerful for me as the dera chief is accused in such heinous crime of rape. It is fight against the wrong doings and to reveal the truth”. He always maintained distance from press and never gone for publicity.
The Chief Investigating officer of the cases was then CBI DIG M Narayanan. Narayanan in his interview after dera chief sentenced to 20 years rigours imprisonment in rape cases told the media that he was once even pressurised to stop the investigations in the case. Such was the terror and influence of the dera chief.