In an interview with News 18, M Narayanan, the chief investigating officer in the rape case against the Dera Sacha Sauda leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, has revealed how former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resisted pressure from the lawmakers in Punjab and Haryana, and backed investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Narayanan, retired DIG (Deputy Inspector General) of the CBI, also talked about the hostility and threats that his team encountered from Singh's supporters, and he revealed details about Singh's life inside the Dera Sacha Sauda campus in Sirsa.
"He had a collection of condoms and contraceptives in his room. He was a maniac, a real beast," Narayanan told the news channel.
Narayanan said that 200 women had left the Dera campus between 1999 and 2002 because of sexual harassment, but the CBI could only trace 10 victims. Finally, the CBI persuaded two survivors to file a charge sheet in a court in Ambala.
He had a collection of condoms and contraceptives in his room. He was a maniac, a real beast.
Earlier this month, Singh was convicted for the rape and criminal intimidation of two women who had lived inside the Dera campus. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a CBI special court. Thirty six people were killed and 250 were wounded in the violent protests that followed his sentencing on Friday. The Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana has come under intense criticism for failing to control the violence, which was allegedly planned and orchestrated by Singh's supporters.
Narayanan said that Singh lived like a medieval king in his "goofa", his accommodation inside the campus, surrounded by women (sadhvis). Every night around 10 pm, according to the former police official, Singh would phone the head sadhvi and instruct her to send a young woman to sleep with the "guru."
Over the course of two decades, Singh amassed a huge following by providing the underprivileged and marginalized sections of society access to education and health services. His popularity, especially among people who have been subjected to discrimination based on caste, also gave the "godman" tremendous political clout. Instead of calling him out on his alleged crimes including murder, politicians have sought his support to get votes.
Narayanan told News 18, "The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stood by the CBI and ordered us to go by the law. He went through the statement made by two Sadhvis before a judge and did not succumb to the pressures from Punjab and Haryana MPs. After a lot of pressure from these MPs, Manmohan Singh had summoned the then CBI chief Vijay Shanker to his office to discuss the case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. After seeing the victim's statements before a judge, Singh backed us."
In addition to the rape case against him, Singh is also facing charges for the murders of Ranjit Singh, a former manager of Dera Sacha Sauda, and Ram Chander Chhatrapati, a local journalist.
While Ranjit circulated the letter written by his sister in 2002, which contained details of how she was raped by Singh, Chhatrapati had published the letter in his newspaper. The final hearings on the murder charges are scheduled for next month.
In a letter addressed to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the woman wrote, "We appear like devis (pious women), but our situation is that of prostitutes. I tried once to tell my family members that all was not well at the Dera. But, they got angry with me saying that if God's company is not worth enjoying then which place would be. It seems your mind has become corrupt, recite the name of satguru (the real teacher), they told me. I am helpless. I have to obey every command of the Maharaj."
Following Singh's conviction, last week, she said, "He was present in the courtroom when I deposed against him in 2009. I was not scared of him then nor am I am today."
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