‘God’ Is An Indian

The conviction of the self-proclaimed godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim for 20 years, ten years each in two separate cases of rape, is the culmination of a long-drawn process that started in 2002 after a letter of one of the rape victims to the then Prime minister was published in a local paper. The then Prime Minister had paid no heed to the letter. The editor of the paper and a resident of the asram suspected of leaking news to the editor were killed, prompting the Haryana High Court to order a CBI probe. Several agonising facts related with the case have come to light, and they deserve serious attention because they are not less important. First of all, the murdered editor, Ramchandra Chhatrapati, had asked for the protection of the state, but not given. Secondly, the police tried to jeopardise the case relating to his murder by foul means. In his dying declaration, Ramchandra referred to the assailants as Ram Rahim's men. But the police, which had not recorded the declaration in front of any magistrate and thus had violated the Cr.P.C 164, purposively deleted the name of this self-proclaimed godman from the dying statement. Then the police was under the Lok Dal ministry led by Omprakash Choutala. When the Congress came to power in Haryana in 2004 the same game continued, and another allegation, that of castration of some sadhus, was practically suppressed by the Haryana police. Then this godman mobilised his resources in support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before the assembly polls and the BJP came to power in Haryana. The CBI officer in charge of the investigation was, as he has stated, pressurised by a senior officer to stop investigation and there were similar pressure from political quarters. The officer, however, did not relent, showing a boldness uncharacteristic of the usual run of such officers.

Finally, after the godman was declared guilty of rape, his followers began a campaign of destruction of life and property, both private and government, and in Haryana's Panchkula, a town where Gurmeet Ram Rahim's trial was being held, and other places, killing 34 persons and leaving a trail of destruction. It is clear that thousands of persons, lured by money and blind bhakti, had gathered there in advance, and the government, although aware of the gathering storm, was carefully careless about preempting the possibility of mob violence. The reason is of course political, because the open support of Ram Rahim and his organisation Dera Sacha Sauda, helped the BJP win the Haryana elections in 2014. The Punjab and Haryana High Court justifiably accused the Haryana government of political surrender. The point to ask is: how could tens of thousands of persons be mobilised in support of the godman? It is quite conceivable that a considerable section of them had been given money for assembling in Panchkula and indulging in riots and arson. But that does not explain the whole affair. The cult of bhakti in this subcontinent is an ancient tradition that has come down to people over millennia. This bhakti refuses to see reason and does not want to believe that the guru may be guilty of any crime. Brahmins who used to impart 'secret wisdom' to kings produced rabbits out of hats, and they are the inventors of this cult. This 'secret wisdom' also brought much wealth to the wise. In the domain of the influence of such wise men, rationality has no place and even direct observations are to yield place to bhakti. Politicians, buereaucrats, businessmen, players and other celebrities are kept in thraldom by such gurus. As per a newspaper report, even renowned cricketers are devotees of this godman. During the Left Front rule in West Bengal, one important cabinet minister, a professed Marxist, was a devotee of Balak Brahmmachari. Such examples are to be found in all parts of the country. Here however, one CBI officer and the trial judge refused to be swayed by this cult and acted with some boldness at least, and the Punjab and Haryana High Court also have taken a serious view of things. One section of the print media has also done its job well. These are the silver linings.

Vol. 50, No.10, Sep 10 - 16, 2017