Rape convict Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on Wednesday organized a virtual 'Satsang' which was attended by many political leaders including the Karnal Mayor and many Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, sparking a fresh controversy.
Ram Rahim, who is serving a jail term after being convicted in rape and murder cases was released from Sunaria jail on 40-day parole.
The Dera chief's family had submitted an application to the jail authorities seeking month-long parole for him.
The opposition demanded a justification from the Bharatiya Janata Party over its leader's participation in the Satsang.
Meanwhile, Karnal mayor Renu Bala Gupta, deputy mayor Naveen Kumar and senior deputy mayor Rajesh Aggi are continuously trying to defend their participation in the event.
"I was invited to the Satsang by the 'sadh sangat'. Online Satsang was done from UP. Many people in my ward are associated with Baba. We reached the program from social connection and it has nothing to do with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the upcoming bypoll election," Rajesh Aggi said.
Notably, the Adampur bypoll in Haryana is scheduled to be held on November 3. Besides, the state is also scheduled to hold panchayat polls soon.
Deputy Mayor Naveen Kumar said that everyone who got information about the Satsang reached there.
On the question of taking the blessings of Ram Rahim to win the election, Naveen said that the people have chosen him from their ward and only the public decides this.
"It is necessary to have the blessings of the people," Naveen said.
Speaking about Dera chief's parole, he said that anyone could seek parole at his own pleasure.
"He may have taken parole for the festival of Diwali and we should not equate it with elections," he added.
Notably, the opposition also alleged that Ram Rahim was granted parole due to the forthcoming bypolls.
Earlier, Ram Rahim was granted parole for a month on June 17.
Ram Rahim has been incarcerated since 2017 in Haryana's Sunaria jail where he is serving a 20-year-term for raping two women disciples at his ashram's headquarters in Sirsa.
Speaking on the same, Haryana minister Anil Vij said that his parole has nothing to do with Adampur bypoll.
"Parole is granted by jail department. I have nothing to do with this. If a person from Karnal believes in Gurmeet Ram Rahim and has gone to see him, then what is the connection with Adampur polls," Vij said.
Earlier in February, the Dera chief was granted three weeks' furlough.
While parole means the release of a prisoner either temporarily for a special purpose or completely before the expiry of a sentence, on the promise of good behaviour, a furlough is a short-term temporary release of convicts from jail.
He was convicted by a special CBI court in Panchkula in August 2017 for raping two women followers.
While, on October 8, 2021, the court convicted Ram Rahim and four others in connection with former Dera manager Ranjit Singh's murder case.
Ranjit Singh was murdered in 2002 on the premises of Dera Sacha Sauda.
The CBI had registered the case on the orders passed by the high court of Punjab and Haryana in the year 2003 and taken over the investigation of the case earlier registered at Police Station Sadar in Kurukshetra.
It was alleged that Ranjit Singh was murdered on July 10, 2002, when he was working in his fields at village Khanpur Kolian of District Kurukshetra in Haryana.
After a thorough investigation, CBI filed a charge sheet in the year 2007 against six accused and charges were framed in the year 2008. During the pendency of the trial, one accused expired on October 10, 2020, and trial proceedings were abated against him.
The court had held the said accused guilty and convicted them on October 8, 2021.
On July 5, Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed the writ petition that was filed by some people alleging the replacement of Ram Rahim with a dummy person.
Justice Karamjit Singh of the HC passed these orders while dismissing a plea and said that the plea lacked merit.
The plea was filed by Ashok Kumar and 18 other petitioners claiming themselves to be staunch supporters of the controversial preacher.
The petitioners, in this case, said they had sought directions to "verify the authenticity" of the Dera chief as the state authorities in collusion with Dera functionaries including Priyanka Taneja alias Honeypreet and Prithviraj Nain had replaced a dummy person with the Dera chief.