The Dera Sacha Sauda, currently headed by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan, who was convicted of rape on 25 August, is a den of horrors that keeps giving.
Apart from reports of women being raped by Singh and the act being described by the euphemism "pitaji ki maafi" in his secretive gufa or cave, at least two instances of murder and the forced castration of hundreds of devotees have come to light, all allegedly perpetrated under Singh's instructions.
Shortly before the release of Singh's controversial movie MSG: Messenger of God, a former member of the Dera accused the spiritual guru of forcing around 400 men in his ashrams to undergo surgical castration.
In a chilling report in The Quint, Hansraj Chauhan describes the ordeal he went through as a 19-year-old in the year 2000, when he was drugged by a compounder with a glass of Pepsi a Dera Sacha Sauda hospital in Gurusar Modiya in Rajasthan's Sri Ganganagar. He woke up two days later to find his testicles wrapped in a bundle of bandages. Since then, he's not been able to indulge in sexual activities for the past 17 years.
His predicament, allegedly, was shared by hundreds of other premis (or beloveds, as the male sadhus at the Dera are called), who were spiked with drugs and forced to undergo such a procedure in a bid to keep them celibate and pure. Castration, the men were told, would allow them to get closer to god. The CBI is currently looking into these complaints of castration.
Ironically, while this sterilisation drive was enforced by the moral police at the ashrams, the chief of the sect presumably indulged his carnal desires, as the stories of several women being raped would attest. If the women were emotionally blackmailed into keeping their silence, the men were allegedly given some drugs every morning to keep them distracted and make them lose control over their will.
The women at the ashram were also kept away from one another and no one was allowed mobile phone or any access to newspapers. Under this strict regime of surveillance, the authorities of the Dera had a free-for-all. Money would be raised by auctioning the vegetables grown at the farm of the Dera ashrams — with a basket of cauliflowers being sold for several crores of rupees.
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