Conviction of self-styled ‘Godman’ dredges up his visits to ‘God’s own country’
While public life at the national capital and in Haryana has almost come to a grinding halt owing to the violence perpetrated by supporters of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, ‘God’s own country’ is in the mood of retrospection. A CBI special court had found the self-styled ‘Godman’ guilty of raping two followers in his Ashram in 2002.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s visits to Kerala and his varied connection with the high-profile business community in the State have always been celebrated and had triggered multiple reactions.
In January 2015, the Kerala Government had refused to provide ‘Z’ category security for the Dera Sacha Sauda leader during his visit to the State. He had arrived in Kerala in connection with his real estate business in the State and for sightseeing. The State Government at that time had informed the Union Ministry that the security protection could be provided only on the basis of payment for such ‘private visits’. Since there was no reciprocal arrangement between Haryana and Kerala with respect to the security cover, the State had asked the former to reimburse Rs.2 lakh spent for providing ‘Z’ category protection to the spiritual head.
It is informed from various sources that the controversial spiritual leader has strong bonds with the business tycoons based in Kerala. His frequent visits to the State had also invoked suspicion. Apart from real estate interests, Ram Rahim Singh is suspected to have strong connections in the Malayalam film industry. It was reported that the accused spiritual leader had offered a Malayalam actor a huge sum of money for joining the spiritual sect he heads.
Besides real estate, Ram Rahim Singh had also intended to set up a Malayalam spiritual music channel. His plans to conduct music show in Kochi last year was turned down by an agitated Malayali cyber folk in Kerala. One of his high-profile visits to Kochi in 2012 had caused heavy traffic block in the city. At that time he was provided security cover by the police force of three states–Haryana, Kerala and Karnataka. He had visited Kozhikode too in the same year and an unprecedented traffic block was witnessed there on that day.
In Haryana, Ram Rahim Singh is the only other personality after the Haryana CM to enjoy ‘Z’ category security cover. He is said to have been threatened by a terrorist outfit ‘Khalistan Zindabad Force’ and following this he was offered the ‘Z’ category security cover by the Haryana Government.
Though Ram Rahim Singh’s Dera Sacha Sauda sect has fewer followers in the State, he has visited Kerala more than 10 times in the past seven years. In all his visits, a huge crowd was visible to welcome him with drumbeats. His most favoured locations in Kerala are supposed to be Wayanad, Kasargod, Kochi, Wagamon, Munnar and Alappuzha. He had visited Wagamon in 2014 and said that several people from that place approached him to take over their schools in the locality. He had informed at that time that he had plans to set up an Ashram in the area.
Ram Rahim Singh’s frequent visits to the State raises several crucial questions including who provides the ground for the notorious ‘Guru’ and what are their interests. All his visits to Kerala have ended up in controversies right from the 2010 visit. In that year, his escorting vehicle hit two people and not a second was spared to find out if they were okay. Ram Rahim Singh had also visited the State capital and Idukki district for spiritual lectures in these years.