MSG: Messenger of God
Former chairperson of Censor Board Leela Samson resigned after Singh’s film was cleared by the Film Certificate Tribunal Appellate in January 2015. Samson had accused the information and broadcasting ministry of stifling her functioning by meddling in “every new film being released, big and small”. Another board member Ira Bhaskar tendered her resignation after Samson.
The film featured the self-styled spiritual leader as a swashbuckling hero in bejewelled costume riding motorbikes and sending bad guys flying. Singh wrote and co-directed the film, besides singing and composing its music.
Hurting religious sentiments
In May 2007, Sikh organisations accused Singh of hurting their religious sentiments after his outfit in an adverstisement resembled the attire of the tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. Following clashes, a criminal case was filed against Singh but it was dismissed in 2009.
Suspect in murder case
Singh was the prime suspect in the murder of a journalist with a newspaper Poora Sach. Ram Chander Chattrapati was shot at on October 24, 2002, for allegedly writing about the illegal activities in the sect. The case is still pending in a CBI special court.
A sadhvi who was a member of the Dera Sacha Sauda accused Singh of rape. The case registered in 2002 was taken up by the Punjab and Haryana high court but it was later handed over to the CBI.
The controversy deepened after a man was allegedly shot dead by Dera followers in July the same year as he was suspected to be behind an anonymous letter to the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee which levelled the sexual assault charges on Singh.
Castration of followers
The dera head was accused of forcing castration of around 400 followers in 2014. The investigation began after one of his devotees claimed to have been manipulated into undergoing the “painful” operation on the pretext of attainment of union with God. A case was booked against him and according to the CBI, which was directed to probe the case by the Punjab and Haryana HC, the castration was done to safeguard sadhvis (women followers) from possible sexual advances.
Singh again came under the scanner in December 2014 after the Punjab and Haryana HC ordered that activities of the sect should be periodically monitored after reports of arms training at the Dera. The court opined that training of private commandos and arming them with illegal weapons to protect some individuals would definitely pose a challenge “not only to the judiciary, but also to the State”.
A special CBI court will announce the verdict of the rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in Panchkula on August 25.
Police have stepped up security anticipating protests by Dera followers.
Here’s what you need to know about the rape case:
• The verdict will be declared by the CBI court in Panchkula after more than a decade of trial proceedings over allegations by two female ex-followers of the Dera that they were sexually exploited at the sect’s headquarters in Sirsa, Haryana.
• The sadhvis who were members of the Dera Sacha Sauda had accused Singh of rape and the case was registered in 2002. It was taken up by the Punjab and Haryana high court but was later handed over to the CBI.
• CBI officials said they had concrete evidence against Singh. The agency charged hi with sexually exploiting sadhvis after tracking down two victims. Their statements have been recorded before a magistrate under section 164 CrPC, which makes them admissible as evidence.
• Sources said Khatta Singh, once a close associate and driver of Sinh, was also a witness against the Dera chief.
• The controversy deepened after a man was allegedly shot dead by Dera followers in July the same year as he was suspected to be behind an anonymous letter sent to the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The letter levelled charges of sexual assault.
• In the letter, a sadhvi had said she was asked to go into Singh’s room late one night. The Baba, she wrote, was sitting on the bed. A pornographic film was playing on the TV and a revolver was lying near the bed. Singh then raped her and the assaults continued for the next three years. The sadhvi also said 35-40 others were exploited like her.