Thursday March 21, 2019
Home India Inside &#8216...

Inside ‘Pitaji’ Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s ‘Gufa’, ‘Pardon’ meant Rape

Sadhvis of the controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect were forced to seek 'mafi' (pardon) from its chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. The 'mafi' turned out to be rape.

0
//
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
DSS chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. IANS

Chandigarh, September 8, 2017 : Female disciples or ‘sadhvis’ of the controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect were forced to seek ‘mafi’ (pardon) from its chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, at his whims and fancies. For those who did not know what ‘mafi’ meant, it turned to be rape by the man whom they considered their god.

These gory details have emerged in the judgment which recently convicted Ram Rahim for the rape of two female disciples in 1999.

The DSS chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who turned 50 last month, was sentenced by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court judge Jagdeep Singh to 20 years’ rigorous imprisonment — 10 years for each count of rape.

Investigations by the CBI, as quoted in the judgment, describe a ‘gufa’ (cave) of the accused inside the sprawling 600-acre campus of the DSS sect near Sirsa town in Haryana.

One of the rape victims told the court and the CBI that she heard of the word ‘mafi’ from other sadhvis.

“The other sadhvis used to ask her (Victim A) as to whether ‘pitaji’ (father, as Ram Rahim is referred to by his followers) had granted ‘mafi’ to her or not, but at that time she did not understand the meaning of the word. When she used to ask from them as to what was the meaning of ‘mafi, they used to laugh at her,” the judgment, quoting the statement of one of the rape victims, said.

It was on the night of August 28, 1999, that the victim was taken by DSS ashram in-charge Sudesh to the ‘gufa’ of the self-styled godman. The victim gave details of what happened inside the gufa and how she was raped by the person whom she considered her god.

The victim said that Ram Rahim told her that she had become ‘apavitar’ (unholy) because of her past deeds and that he was going to purify her. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who was watching a porn film when the victim entered his room, even had a pistol on the bed to intimidate her. After committing the rape, he warned her against relating the incident to anyone, failing which she and her family would be eliminated.

The same victim was again raped by the sect chief after a year.

Almost a similar modus operandi was adopted while committing rape on Victim-B in September 1999.

The CBI investigation revealed that out of the 133 sadhvis residing in two hostels of the DSS campuses, 24 had left during 1997-2002. The CBI, which was entrusted the inquiry into happenings at the DSS campus after an anonymous letter of rape and sexual exploitation of sadhvis by the sect chief emerged in 2002, could trace only 18 sadhvis who had faced exploitation during their stay.

“Both the prosecutrix, i.e. prosecutrix-A and prosecutrix-B, have stood like rocks and credibility of these witnesses/victims could not be impeached despite very lengthy cross-examination and they have consistently deposed that they were ravished by the accused while residing in the Dera campus,” the 167-page conviction judgment noted. (IANS)

Next Story

“We Can Make Difference By Rendering Services To The Women And Children” All-female Legal Group Fights In Sierra Leone

Most of the time the children, the women, are not aware of the signs and symptoms. They’re not aware of anything until it had fully happened, so the conversation has to start from the bottom up.”

0
Sierra Leone
Fatmata Sorie, president of Legal Access through Women Yearning for Equality Rights and Social Justice (LAWYERS), is pictured in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Feb. 7, 2019. Pixabay

In Sierra Leone, cases involving the abuse of women have rarely been prosecuted. Spousal abusers, child abusers and even rapists have, too often, walked free.

A group of lawyers and judges — all of them female — has decided to take action to change that.

“We’ve seen a lot of issues affecting our women and girls in our society, and we believe that, with the expertise that we have, we can make a difference by rendering services to the women and children who need it most,” said Fatmata Sorie, an attorney and president of the group Legal Access through Women Yearning for Equality Rights and Social justice (LAWYERS).

The group was founded 22 years ago and offers pro bono legal work to those in need. One of the founding members was Patricia Kabbah, a former first lady of Sierra Leone and a lawyer herself.

LAWYERS has about 50 members, and Sorie says they discourage out-of-court settlements in rape cases, preferring to prosecute attackers to the full extent of the law. They also prosecute accessories to the crime. The group conducts outreach to families, encouraging people to break their silence about sexual violence.

FILE - A five-year-old girl poses with her doll as she sits in her wheelchair in the courtyard of the Aberdeen Women's Center, one year after a sexual assault that her family says left her paralyzed, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Feb. 7, 2019.
A five-year-old girl poses with her doll as she sits in her wheelchair in the courtyard of the Aberdeen Women’s Center, one year after a sexual assault that her family says left her paralyzed, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Feb. 7, 2019. VOA

“We also start within our homes because, in most homes, we don’t sit down as parents, as families, to discuss issues,” she said. “So most of the time the children, the women, are not aware of the signs and symptoms. They’re not aware of anything until it had fully happened, so the conversation has to start from the bottom up.”

In an unprecedented move, President Julius Maada Bio in February declared rape and sexual violence a national emergency. The country had more than 8,500 reported cases of sexual and gender-based violence last year, but observers believe thousands of additional cases go unreported.

According to the Rainbo Initiative, a Sierra Leonean organization that helps survivors of gender-based violence, 93 percent of victims treated are younger than 17 years of age, and 24 percent are younger than 11.

rape
The president also created a special police division to handle rape cases. But Sorie believes there is more work to be done. Pixabay

The presidential declaration is already having an effect.

“We believe the most prominent impact so far is that we will have more numbers coming out because people feel more comfortable coming up to report these cases,” Sorie said. “And we also have a situation where the regulations are passed based on the declaration that was made by the president. The process for prosecuting sexual penetration and rape cases would be much shorter based on the instruction and the directives.”

 

Also Read:National Award Winning Filmmaker Rima Das Roots for More Female Directors

The president also created a special police division to handle rape cases. But Sorie believes there is more work to be done. She would like to see the maximum penalty for rape increased to life in prison from the current limit of 15 years and wants stronger witness-protection programs. She also said the nation needs additional medical facilities to treat rape victims and forensics labs to test DNA samples.

“We need to keep the fight going and to curb this menace within our society,” she said. (VOA)