Facing allegations of rape from one of his followers, Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who succeeded Shah Satnam as Dera head in September 1990, is not new to the controversies. Besides the rape case in which the verdict is to be pronounced on Friday, Mr. Singh, 50, also faces allegations of two murders, including that of a journalist, and had also courted controversy for dressing up as Guru Gobind Singh in 2007 leading to widespread protests in Punjab.Mr. Singh, who has directed, produced and acted in five movies over the past two years and composed several albums, first courted controversy in May 2002 when one of his followers levelled allegations of rape against him in an anonymous letter to the then Prime Minister and also sent a copy of the letter to Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court. Less than two months later, Ranjit Kumar, a former Dera Sacha Sauda management committee member, was murdered on July 10, with the needle of suspicion pointing at the Dera. As Ranjit’s sister was a follower of Dera Sacha Sauda and stayed at its premises, the Dera managers reportedly suspected Ranjit to have prompted his sister to write the anonymous letter.Exactly a month after a CBI investigation was ordered into the allegations made in the anonymous letter on September 24, 2002, Ramchander Chhatrapati, the editor of evening newspaper “Poora Sach”, was shot five times outside his house. The incident led to large-scale protests by media persons across the State and protests were held against Dera Sacha Sauda.Not satisfied with the police investigation, the family of Mr. Chhatrapati and Ranjit’s father moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking a CBI investigation into the two cases and accused the Dera chief of murders. The court clubbed the hearing in the two murder cases and ordered the CBI to register FIRs on November 10, 2003.Violent clashesMr. Singh, who has Z+ security cover, again courted controversy when he dressed himself up as Guru Gobind Singh at a dera in Bhatinda in Punjab in May 2007, leading to violent clashes between his followers and members of the Sikh community across North India.In 2010, former Dera worker Sadhu Ram Kumar Bishnoi moved the High Court seeking CBI probe into mysterious disappearance of Dera’s former manager Fakir Chand. It led to violent protests and arson by Dera followers. The CBI later filed a closure report in the case, but Mr. Bishnoi later challenged the closure report in the court.Hansraj Chauhan, a resident of Tohana, also filed a petition in High Court on July 17, 2012 accusing the Dera chief of castration of 400 sadhus in the Dera and also produced a list of 166 such sadhus.
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