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After conviction, Dera chief skipped dinner in jail

By Bunty Tyagi
August 29, 2017 20:48 IST
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Convicted Dera Sacha Sauda sect head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh did not have food on Monday night in the Sunaria jail in Rohtak after he was sentenced to 20-year jail for raping two of his followers, a prison official said on Tuesday.

The 50-year-old-self-styled godman drank only some water during the night and took milk in the morning, the official said.

Ram Rahim did not talk with anyone and was seen roaming in the cell.

The Dera sect chief has been kept in the approval cell at Sunaria jail in Rohtak.

A special Central Bureau of Investigation court on Monday sentenced Ram Rahim Singh to 20 years in jail for rape of his two followers, holding he acted like a 'wild beast' who did not even spare his own 'pious' female disciples.

Judge Jagdeep Singh in his 9-page order had pronounced two sentences of 10 years rigorous imprisonment in each of the two rapes that date back to 2002.

A fine of Rs 15 lakh in each case was also imposed.

Speculation rife on Gurmeet's successor, Dera says no move yet

Meanwhile, speculation was rife on who will succeed convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, with the names of his son Jasmeet, adopted daughter Honeypreet and Dera chairperson Vipassana Insan doing the rounds.

However, Dera sources said that no such move yet has been initiated by the Dera management.

The first priority of the Dera will be to file an appeal in the high court against the sentence.

Jasmeet, who is in his thirties, is married to the daughter of former Punjab Congress legislator Harminder Singh Jassi.

If Jasmeet is appointed as successor of Ram Rahim, it will be breaking the tradition of the Dera which has never appointed a person as its chief who is from the family of the present sect head.

Honeypreet Insan, who is considered close to Dera sect head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, is also seen as the likely successor of the Dera.

Honeypreet, who is her in thirties, had accompanied Ram Rahim when he was brought to the Special CBI court in Panchkula for the pronouncement of verdict.

Honeypreet, who describes herself as 'papa's angel, philanthropist, director, editor and actress' on social media, is an adopted daughter of Ram Rahim Singh.

Vipassana Insan is the chairperson of the Dera Sacha Sauda and holds the top position in the Dera management which takes care of several activities like farming, social welfare, factories, educational institutions etc.

After the mayhem at Panchkula and Sirsa following conviction of Dera sect head, it was Vipassana who had issued an appeal in video message, asking followers to maintain peace and calm.

Vipassana, when contacted, said there was no move to appoint a new Dera sect head. "There is no succession move. Followers have complete faith in Guruji," she said.

However, she said for the time being, all educational institutions and factories of the Dera have been shut down.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was appointed as the third head of the Dera Sacha Sauda on September 23, 1990 at the age of 23.

The Dera Sacha Sauda was founded by Mastana Maharaj in Sirsa on April 29, 1948, "to encourage spiritual awakening among masses to uplift humanity and to create better world."

In 1960, Mastana Maharaj, who originally hailed from Baluchistan (Pakistan), handed over the reins of Dera to his successor Shah Satnam Singh.

The Dera, which claims to have millions of followers, runs educational institutions, hospitals, carrying out farming and manufacturing activities etc.

It has several wings like administrative, political, youth federation, social welfare, medical, educational and IT.

200 more followers to be evacuated from Dera headquarters

With members of the Dera Sacha Sauda living in its old headquarters having moved out, Army and security personnel are now placed by the sect's sprawling new complex which is still to be vacated by some 200 people, officials in Sirsa said.

No incidents of violence have been reported from Sirsa in the last two days, the officials said.

Mobile internet services, suspended days before Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced, have been restored, they added.

Army personnel have put up barricades around 500 metres away from the new complex of the Dera and are urging followers who are still there to leave the premises.

The new facility came up about 12 years ago as the sect's popularity grew, leading to a demand for expanded facilities.

The old complex was built by the sect's founder, Mastana Balochistani.

Deputy Commissioner Prabhjot Singh told PTI about 200 people, mostly Dera employees, were still housed in the new headquarters in Sirsa.

Deputy director, information and public relations department, Haryana, Satish Kumar, said around 700 followers had left the headquarters since the morning.

"We provided buses for them so that they could return home. Nearly all of them belong to Haryana or Punjab," he said.

Eighteen girls who were in a home for minors inside the Dera premises had been escorted out, too.

The girls, however, said they were happy in the Dera and did not want to leave it, the DC said.

"The 18 girls, all minors, said they were happy and did not want to come out. However, we persuaded the Dera management and with their help took them out," Singh said.

They will be placed in juvenile homes in Haryana, the officials said.

"The girls, who come from different areas, said they felt safe inside. We found them healthy. Yesterday, 34 boys were taken out," the DC said.

Another officer said the government would put the girls in touch with their families.

The district administration is helping the followers leave for their homes by arranging buses and other facilities for them.

During the past two days, about 6,500 Dera followers have moved out of the premises and gone back home to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and elsewhere, the DC said.

"Army, paramilitary forces and police personnel have put up barricades a few metres away from the new Dera headquarters after crossing the older one located on the same road. The situation is normal in the area now," Deputy Superintendent of Police (Sirsa) Dilip Singh told PTI.

IMAGE: Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is believed to have broken down and wept after the judge delivered a 20-year jail sentence to him. Photograph: PTI Photo

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