Bhartesh Singh Thakur
Tribune News Service
Kurukshetra, October 18
Raped twice by Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and her brother murdered by his henchmen on July 10, 2002, a 45-year-old woman has been living in constant fear of being harmed again by the sect head and his followers.
He (dera chief) should be hanged. Deserves nothing less than capital punishment… enjoys powers despite being in prison. Victim’s sister
Guarded by armed policemen at her late father’s three-storeyed house in Kurukshetra, the victim burst into tears when told the dera chief had been convicted for killing her brother, in a trial lasting almost two decades. “He should be hanged. Deserves nothing less than capital punishment,” she says, her voice choking with emotions. Sexually abused in 1999 and 2000 on the pretext of “purification” on the dera premises in Sirsa, the victim was one of the two witnesses in the rape case in which Ram Rahim was convicted in August 2017.
Claiming Ram Rahim wields great power despite being in prison, she says, “Several of his followers still have blind faith in him… I have a family. I fear for their safety.” Regretting her parents died awaiting justice, she recounts how her brother, a staunch dera follower since childhood, came to her rescue when she confided in him after being raped the second time.
“Ram Rahim’s utterances would be the last word for my brother. In fact, our entire family was deeply devoted. I regularly visited the dera for ‘sewa’ and joined as a full-time ‘sadhvi’ (nun) in 1999,” she says.
Such was the blind faith that nobody could question the dera chief. “If anyone dared to speak against him, he would be brutally beaten and left to die without food... There were several rape victims, but their parents didn’t trust them. I too would have died there had my brother not rescued me (in April 2001),” she says, tears rolling down her cheeks again.
The victim, who got married in October 2001, says her brother came to meet her nine days before being murdered.
“He told me dera men were threatening him over the circulation of an anonymous letter alleging sexual exploitation of women followers inside the dera. My case was specifically mentioned in the letter,” she says, expressing gratitude to her husband and daughter, her biggest strengths in her fight for justice.
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