The Indian Sect Leader, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentences to 20 years of imprisonment on Monday 28 August 2017, for raping two of his followers. Due to his popularity and immense public support, mobile internet services were suspended in seven Haryana states till 30 August 2017.
The Judge read the order which stated, “the victims put the convict on the pedestal of ‘god’ and revered him. However, the convict committed breach of the gravest nature by sexually assaulting such gullible and blind followers”.
Singh, had tens of thousands of supporters gathered outside the court to hear the verdict. However, when Singh was proven guilty, his supporters began rioting which resulted in the death of 34 people and left many wounded.
Many might wonder what prompted the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), to investigate Singh. According to Al Jazeera, “in 2002, one of his female followers wrote an anonymous letter to the country’s then prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, alleging that she had been raped by Singh and many of his female devotees were sexually exploited”.
CBI is also looking into Singh’s supposedly involvement in the 2002 murder of journalist who exposed rape allegations against him.
The irony of it all is that Singh, a self proclaimed saint encourages modesty and self-sacrifice to his followers but he himself lived a lavish life. “Guru” Ram Rahim acted in his own movies and always bragged ‘he was a spiritual saint, a writer, a musician, a sportsman, an agriculturalist, a singer, a director, a scientist, a feminist, a youth icon and the holder of a number of Guinness World Records’.
Singh claims he has 60 million followers worldwide but, not many have spoken in his favour other than those who thought rioting was equivalent to talking.
A few of his devotees have spoken up on how Singh, saved them from troubles and they treat him more than just a family member. According to BBC, “many of his followers, including the Yadav family, believe he possesses magical powers”.
The investigation had been going on for more than a decade, which only tells us how influential political and media figures are in India. It is a milestone for the Indian Judiciary to give such a sentencing as it gives hope to rape victims and their families in India.
The hope for justice still seems alive in India. However, until every common man in India feels justice will be served to them despite their race, religion or caste, the fight for their rights ought to never stop.
Maria Khan Safi