Rape convict Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was on Monday (Aug 28) sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court in two cases dating back to 2002.
The self-claimed godman was also ordered to pay a fine of Rs 15 lakh in each of the two cases. Two victims, who were serving as sadhvis in the Dera and were forced to have sex with him, would get a compensation of Rs 14 lakh each from the fine furnished.
Mayhem broke out in in Panchkula, Haryana and adjacent areas after Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted in two rape cases by the court on Aug 25. Around 38 people were killed and over 100 injured in widespread rioting and vandalism.
Here is 10 interesting things to know about Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh:
1. Born on August 15, 1967 at Sri Gurusar Modia village in Rajasthan’s Ganganagar district, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was initiated into the Dera Sacha Sauda at the age of 7 by the group’s second chief Shah Satnam Singh.
2. He was only 23, when Shah Satnam Singh publicly conferred sainthood upon Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and declared him as the third chief of the Dera on Sept 23, 1990.
3. He has three daughters (Honeypreet Insan, Charanpreet Insan, Amarpreet Insan) and a son (Jasmeet Insan) from his marriage with Harjeet Kaur.
4. Known for his strong political connections in Haryana, Rajasthan, and Punjab, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has almost 70% of his followers from Dalits and Other Backward Classes.
His Dera is the only one among the various Deras that openly asks its followers to vote for particular political parties.
5. He earlier used to support the Congress. Even his son is married to the daughter of Congress leader Harminder Singh Jassi.
But after Congress performed poorly in the 2012 Punjab elections and Jassi was defeated, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh changed his inclination towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
6. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had made it to the Guinness World Records for largest display of oil lamps (150,009 lamps), largest finger painting (41,979 ft), largest vegetable mosaic (20,000 ft), , and maximum people sanitising their hands simultaneously (7,675).
7. “Love Charger” as he has been nicknamed based one of his albums, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh claims himself to be a versatile music producer, singer-songwriter, actor, and filmmaker. He has made several films with him playing the lead, including MSG: The Messenger (2015), MSG-2 The Messenger (2015), MSG: The Warrior Lion Heart (2016), Hind Ka Napak ko Jawab – MSG Lion Heart – 2 (2017) and Jattu Engineer (2017).
8. Often accused of mocking Sikh, Hindu and Adivasi religious figures, in 2015, her ranked 96th in The Indian Express’ list of 100 most powerful Indians.
9. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is among the 36 Indians who enjoys a VVIP Status and a Z-level security cover.
10. His convoy of 100 vehicles includes 16 black Ford Endeavours, while he himself rides a Range Rover SUV.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.