With a senior directing them to close the case and the woman who alleged sexual abuse getting married, it was a “game of wits” for the Central Bureau of Investigation team that probed the rape case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim, recalled a retired officer on Friday.
As a special CBI court in Panchkula convicted the Dera Sacha Sauda chief of rape, triggering widespread violence, it was flashback time for former CBI joint director Mulinja Narayanan, who headed the probe.
“It was a game of wits. Sometimes we won and sometimes we lost but, at the end, today’s verdict showed that no one can escape the law of the land,” he said.
Narayanan was posted as Deputy Inspector General of Police (Special Crimes) in Delhi when the Punjab and Haryana high court handed the case to the CBI in September 2002.
“The case was registered on December 12, 2002 and suddenly I found a senior CBI official entering my room and directing me that the case needs to be closed and no action should be taken,” the retired officer said.
Taking cue from this “unsolicited” advice, Narayanan said he sensed there were many skeletons in this cupboard and decided to probe all aspects of the case.
“Later, as the investigations carried on, many powerful politicians and business persons walked into the CBI headquarters and put lot of pressure to close the case. But thanks to the judiciary, we could manage to complete our investigation,” he said.
Narayanan, 67, who retired in 2009 after putting in 38 years of service, was the first officer in the CBI who rose from the post of sub-inspector to joint director.
He also spoke about the difficulties in investigating the case.
“The girl, who had been sexually abused in 1999, had since left Dera and got married. It was a daunting task to convince her as well as her family members. Thankfully, I played the role of a father for her and ensured that she not only gives her statement but also testifies before a magistrate.
“I wanted to ensure that no one plays dirty and weakens the case later. Therefore, I got the statement of the girl recorded before a magistrate so that retracting it becomes nearly impossible.”
The man himself appeared scared during questioning, Narayanan remembered.
“He did not give any direct reply. He pretended to be a baba but my instincts told me that he was a scared person during the questioning.”
He said he was under pressure even from his juniors.
“My seniors knew my professionalism. I do not succumb to pressures but what surprised me was that some of my subordinate staff came and made vehement requests that I should stop the probe against Gurmeet Singh.”
Narayanan was decorated with a Police Medal for Meritorious Services in 1992 and a President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 1999.
The case against Gurmeet was registered in 2002 following anonymous letters alleging that he had sexually exploited two ‘sadhvis’.
A special CBI court on Friday convicted the Dera Sacha Sauda head of rape, in a verdict pronounced amid unprecedented security cover, over 15 years after the Punjab and Haryana high court took cognisance of a postcard alleging sexual exploitation and ordered a CBI probe.
The quantum of sentence will be pronounced on August 28.