One night in October 2000, Hansraj Chauhan, then 19 years old, was ushered into the operation theatre of a Dera Sacha Sauda hospital in Gurusar Modiya in Rajasthan’s Sri Ganganagar. After he was offered a glass of Pepsi by a medical compounder, Chauhan slipped into unconsciousness. When he regained consciousness two days later, he was horrified to find his testicles wrapped in bandages.
Speaking to The Quint over the phone from Tohana village in Haryana’s Fatehabad district, where he now lives, Chauhan has a rather clear recollection of how his testicles came under the scalpel.
“I was among other men who were surgically castrated at the behest of Baba (Gurmeet Ram Rahim). The surgeons, all under the spell of Baba, cut open my scrota and removed the testes. Since then I have undergone severe hormonal changes that resulted in loss of facial hair and gynaecomastia,” Chauhan said, not ashamed to reveal his inability to have normal sexual activity ever since that fall night 17 years ago.
Medical reports in the possession of The Quint clearly say that Chauhan’s scrotal sacs were found to be “empty, no testes present” and that “linear scars horizontally placed, measuring approximately 1 inch on both sides of… the scrotal sac”.
The medical report was prepared (by three doctors) following an order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which Chauhan moved in his effort to expose Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and his obsession with allegedly surgically castrating the men in the upper, middle and lower rungs of the Dera Sacha Sauda management.
A Punjab and Haryana High Court order of 23 December 2014 concluded that Chauhan was castrated, perhaps at the instance of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, whose real name is Harpal Singh.
“There is definite averment that castration was at the instance of the 5th respondent (Gurmeet Ram Rahim) and he had undergone mutilation of the testicles on a practice of deception and promise by the 5th respondent that such an act would pave (the) way for realisation of God. The medical examination conducted through (the court) on express orders have filed that the petitioner has no testicles and he may have been castrated by surgery,” the high court said.
The Quint also spoke to Chauhan’s advocate, Navkiran Singh.
Hansraj came to my office in 2012 and after discussing his case I decided to provide Pro Bono services for his case in the Punjab & Haryana High Court. Although we were successful in getting a CBI inquiry marked by the Punjab & Haryana High Court in December 2014, the CBI has of late dragging its feet and the investigation has been progressing at a snail speed, despite 10 interim status reports being submitted to the Punjab & Haryana High Court.
Navkiran Singh, Advocate
Chauhan was formally inducted into the Dera Sacha Sauda on 15 January 1996 when he was no more than 13-14 years old. His father, Balluram Chauhan, was a hand-pump mechanic.
I was given a piece of barfi, which was the usual initiation rite followed at Baba’s Sirsa ashram. I was given the task of fixing the loud speakers, though subsequently I took to playing the guitar and sang bhajans at the Dera’s gatherings.
“Sometime in 2000, Baba felt that the brahmacharis at the Sirsa ashram should be prohibited from getting married or having normal sexual activity. Two doctors, Dr MP Singh, who was chief medical officer at the Shah Satsangi Specialty Hospital, and Dr Pankaj Garg, who now lives in Mohali, were tasked to oversee the castration of some of the devotees,” Chauhan said.
Baba khud ayyashi karta tha. Woh baat humein pata tha, par hum kuchh nahin kek ya kar sakte the. Humari himmat nahin hoti. (Baba would himself indulge in debauchery. We knew about it, but we could do nothing. We did not have the courage to question or expose him.)
At the Sirsa ashram, one woman could not meet another. This was even more strictly enforced in the opulent gufa (den) which Gurmeet Ram Rahim occupied. The women that he would target would be mentally prepared for his sexual depravities. He would resort to emotional blackmailing to prevent the women from reporting these encounters. The followers were not allowed to use mobile phones, they could not read newspapers and could interact with relatives for just a few minutes.
All the young men and women would be brainwashed with the aid of strange substances and sermons. We would gradually lose the power of rational thinking. We would experience a kind of mind paralysis that would make us incapable of taking right decisions.
Another Dera Sacha Sauda devotee, who did not want to be identified for reasons of personal security, said that the “so-called father-daughter relationship” between Gurmeet Ram Rahim and Honeypreet Insan is “certainly questionable”.
Honeypreet, who accompanied Gurmeet on a helicopter on Friday after he was convicted in a rape case, was married to one Vishwas Gupta (“Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s muh-bola damaad”) before the couple divorced.
“Baba has two biological daughters and a son. There is no clarity on why he adopted Honeypreet when he already had two daughters. Baba’s wife lived in a secluded and well-guarded housing unit within the Sirsa ashram,” Chauhan said, claiming that “depending on the wealth possessed by devotees, they would have had to cough up money between Rs 5,000 and Rs 1 lakh”.
Money would be raised by auctioning vegetables. A 10-15-kg basket full of cauliflower would be offered for bidding. This could fetch as much as Rs 1 crore. A few former devotees The Quint contacted alleged that land grabbing in places close to Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s ashrams in Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and parts of UP was common.