By Hb Singh
They should have seen it coming, but they were blinded in the name of sharda.
Meet Saint Dr. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan. Yes, believe it or not, that’s how a website aligned to the convicted rapist Indian baba addresses him.
They should have seen it coming. But when you put on the blind sharda blinkers – oozing unending loyalty without question, following silly one and all edicts from the head – you end up a fool. And much more. You can end up hurting your family, friends and the community.
In the chase for a baba in their lives – let’s call it babadom – stories are emerging on how people were simply ‘gifting’ their wealth to this self-styled godman running a religious centre called Dera Sacha Sauda. Some families even left their daughters, young and innocent, in the supposed care of the centre.
For now, the story does not seem to have a happy ending. On 28 Aug 2017, an Indian court threw a spanner into the seemingly amazing life and times of Gurmeet Ram Rahim. The head of the Haryana-based dera, wielding considerable political clout and financial muscle, has been given a 20-year jail sentence for raping two women followers in 2002.
What are the lessons for Sikhs in India, and in foreign lands? The dera has attracted Sikh followers. And Sikhs are no strangers to babas and deras. We have thousands of them – in India and abroad.
“There are good, decent man of God out there. But there may be an equal, if not more, opportunists disguised as babas,” a Kuala Lumpur-based Sikh who was actively involved in Sikh preaching told the writer.
Another Sikh, who had always been active in Sikh activities, said: “Stick close to the teachings of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS). Take care of yourself and your family.”
But don’t these self-styled babas themselves peddle messages from SGGS, the Sikh scriptures?
“If we have cultivated the right teachings for ourselves and our kids, we have no reason to fear. The problem is that a huge percentage of us do not attempt to do our bit to equip ourselves. We then blame the babas,” he said.
But the power babadom is immense. Let us return to the ‘baba’ under discussion.
“Pitaji’s thinking begins where your science and education ends.”
These words of an elderly follower of the Dera Sacha Sauda in Tehsil office of the Bathinda district in October 2012 echoed in the mind of Tribune News Service (TNS) journalist Jupinderjit Singh.
The elderly man, sporting a white turban that matched his flowing white beard and kurta-pyjama, went on: “You can never fathom him or his actions. You don’t have the faculty to do so, as you journalists are cynics.”
The elder man and 130 followers of the dera had queued up at the Tehsil office to ‘gift away’ some part or whole of his property to the dera. The dera management had given a call to them to do so, he writes in an article entitled ‘Then and now: Mind of a Dera Sacha Sauda follower‘.
The article adds:
Today, the same man while talking to me over the phone begged not to be identified, “I am in state of a shock. I don’t know what is right or wrong and whether the man we revered as father (Pitaji) was really guilty or not? But I definitely feel betrayed. I wonder if I will get my property back. But I don’t know if I will seek it,” he said without any authority or conviction about his faith in the dera.
Within a few days in October 2012 nearly 150 followers like him had ‘gifted’ their land — in rural as well as urban areas ranging from few kanals to several acres — to the dera. The sale deed was done in favour of the Shah Satnam Ji Green ‘S’ Welfare Force Wing of the dera.
Another man, a father of five daughters, had told this reporter that he won’t bat an eyelid before giving away his life and that the house and shop he was “gifting away” was nothing before the dera head. Another follower even gifted 13 acres of land. Both could not be traced now.
These followers still have some hope. As per records of the dera land gathered by the state government, many properties were in still the name of the followers only, though they had executed the sale deeds.
The lifestyle of the baba and his close associates should have sounded the alarms bells. A cursory look at their social media platforms – websites, facebook, twitter – is enough to suggest that something was not quite right at Sirsa, where the Dera Sacha Sauda is headquartered.
Take Honeypreet Kaur, the supposed adopted daughter of the Pita Ji, which is how they address the head.
In one website checked by Asia Samachar (www.honeypreetinsan.me), she is described as ‘a great Daughter of an amazing Father. We are talking about none other than the multi-talented Indian Saint Dr. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan and his equally talented daughter, Honeypreet Insan.’ Notice the uppercase for the words daughter and father, the accolades for the head.
The Haryana Police have issued a lookout notice for her, along with dera spokeman Dr Aditya Insan, for their alleged involvement in inciting violence and possible role in a conspiracy to free the dera chief soon after he was convicted by a CBI court on August 25, according to Indian media reports.
Honeypreet accompanied Ram Rahim in the AgustaWestland helicopter after he was sentenced. The police are now investigating who allowed her to accompany the convict, according to the reports.
The likes of Ram Rahim, booted by sidekicks like Honeypreet, are not new. They are many others out there, waiting to seduce their victims. The people must be vigilant against life’s easy-fixes that babadom peddles.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
These baba chaps greatly influence followers (Asia Samachar, 31 Aug 2016)
Dera chief Ram Rahim gets 20 years jail for rape (Asia Samachar, 28 Aug 2016)
Deras & Babas: Why So Many? (Asia Samachar, 24 Oct 2014)