Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
|Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh|
15 August 1967|
Sri Gurusar Modia, Rajasthan, India
|Organisation||Dera Sacha Sauda|
|Home town||Sri Gurusar Modia, Ganganagar district, Rajasthan|
|Criminal charge||Rape (2 counts)|
|Criminal penalty||20 years|
The Indian Express had placed Ram Rahim 96th in their list of the 100 most powerful Indians of 2015. He has released several music albums and films, which typically revolve around himself and his teachings. He is usually credited in his films as actor, director, writer, songwriter, as well as various other roles, in one instance being credited in thirty departments. His films were negatively received by critics, with many considering them propaganda and criticising their poor quality.
On 25 August 2017, Ram Rahim was convicted of rape by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court. His conviction led to widespread violence from members of the DSS, which left 31–38 DSS members dead from clashes with police and another 120–300 injured. On 28 August 2017, Ram Rahim was sentenced to 20 years in jail for rape. He has also faced prosecution for murder and ordering forced castrations.
Early life and family
Singh was born on 15 August 1967 at Sri Gurusar Modia village in Ganganagar district of Rajasthan. His father Maghar Singh was a landlord, and his mother Naseeb Kaur was a housewife. Maghar was a devoted follower of the DSS leader Shah Satnam Singh, and Gurmeet accompanied his father to the dera. At the age of 7, Singh was initiated into the Dera Sacha Sauda sect by Shah Satnam Singh.
As an adult, Singh did odd jobs, including driving a tractor, and assisted his father in volunteer work (seva) at the dera. When Shah Satnam Singh announced his retirement in 1990, Singh was not one among the three contenders expected to succeed him. In a surprise public announcement, however, Satnam Shah appointed him as his successor, giving him the name "Huzoor Maharaj Gurmeet Ram Rahim". Ram Rahim became the leader of Dera at the age of 23, on 23 September 1990.
Ram Rahim and his wife Harjeet Kaur have two daughters, named Amarpreet and Charanpreet. They also have a son, Jasmeet, who is married to Husanmeet, a daughter of the Indian National Congress leader Harminder Singh Jassi. Ram Rahim also adopted his confidante Priyanka Taneja as his daughter, giving her the name Honeypreet in 2009. Ram Rahim's followers have adopted "Insan" ("human") as a surname.
Ram Rahim had been known for political clout, as his Dera has a large number of followers among Dalits and Other Backward Classes, estimated to be about 70%. His Dera Sacha Sauda is the only one among the various Deras that openly asks its supporters to vote for particular political parties.
Ram Rahim originally supported the Indian National Congress. Ram Rahim's son is married to the daughter of the Congress leader Harminder Singh Jassi. The Dera Sacha Sauda supported Congress in the 2007 Punjab state elections, and helped the party take control of the Malwa region. Before the 2012 Punjab state elections, the Congress leader Amarinder Singh, his wife Preneet Kaur and his son Raninder Singh visited Ram Rahim, asking him to extend his support to Congress. However, Dera's support to Congress alienated the party's Sikh vote bank. In the 2012 elections, Congress performed poorly, and Jassi himself lost the election. The poor performance of Congress was seen as a signal of the downfall of Dera's political power.
Before the 2014 Haryana state elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi praised Ram Rahim in order to attract the Dera Sacha Sauda followers. Ram Rahim supported the BJP in the state elections. In February 2015, his organisation again supported the BJP in the Delhi assembly elections. He reportedly claimed to have over 2 million followers in Delhi. His organisation supported BJP in the Bihar assembly election in 2015, and nearly 3,000 Dera followers campaigned for BJP in the state. In 2016, the Haryana sports minister Anil Vij announced a ₹ 5 million grant to the Dera for promoting sports, in Ram Rahim's presence, which led to a controversy.
The Dera runs 3 hospitals and 13 educational institutes. Ram Rahim has organised drives for blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol screening that have been recognised by Guinness World Records. In association with the American Society of Echocardiography, he also organised the world record for "Most Cardiac Echo Tests". On 21 September 2011 in New Delhi, Ram Rahim initiated a series of sanitation drives and also pledged his support to the Central Government's campaign. As of 2016, about 30 Mega Cleanliness Campaigns have been conducted in several states of India. On 22 May 2012 Ram Rahim laid the foundation of the Shah Satnam ji Super Speciality Hospital at Sirsa. He established a specialised disaster relief and welfare agency called Shah Satnam Ji Green-S Welfare Force Wing in 2001, especially in the aftermath of the Odisha cyclone and Gujarat earthquake. A CBI report investigating criminal allegations against him mentioned that Ram Rahim's "crusades against drugs, alcohol, and prostitution" have gained him a "larger-than-life" image. He has also spoken out against cattle slaughter in India.
|2012||Thank You For That||Yes||Yes||Universal||Debut|
|Network Tere Love Ka||Yes||Yes||Universal|
|Chashma Yaar Ka||Yes||Yes||Universal|
|2013||Lov Rab Se||Yes||Yes||Universal|
|2014||Highway Love Charger||Yes||Yes||Universal||Album sold 3 millions copies in the first three days. Music video became an instant hit on YouTube|
|2015||MSG: The Messenger||"Desh", "Daru" "Ko Goli Maro", "Papa The Great", "Never Ever", "Never Ever remix", "Rataan Bataan", "Ram Ram"||Yes||Yes||Sony Music India||Ram Rahim was awarded 4 Platinum Plaques from IFPI for music of this movie|
|MSG-2 The Messenger||"Party Dhoom Dhaam Se", "MSG The Messenger", "Rooh Nashiyaani", "Hasin Wadiyon Mein", "Sapnon Mein Aana Tera", "Hule Maale Gile Chila", "Party Dhoom Dhaam Se (remix)"||Yes||Yes||T Series|
|2016||MSG: The Warrior Lion Heart||"Dhol Baaje", "Sohna Mera Mishri Di Daliye"||Yes||Yes||Zee Music||Second song unveiled in live concert admist 3.6 million fans|
|2017||Hind Ka Napak ko Jawab - MSG Lion Heart - 2||"Jung Hai Humri Aatankwad Se", "System Hil Gaya", "Thank U For That", "Tujhe Paa Ke"||Yes||Yes||Zee Music|
|2017||Jattu Engineer||"Holi Ki Pichkari", "Josh Mein"||Yes||Yes|
|2015||MSG: The Messenger||Yes||Yes||Guru Ji||Film debut|
Co-directed with Jeetu Arora
|MSG-2 The Messenger||Yes||Yes||Guru Ji||Sequel to MSG: The Messenger|
Co-directed with Jeetu Arora
|2016||MSG: The Warrior Lion Heart||Yes||Yes||Lion Heart||Spiritual successor to previous MSG films|
Co-directed with daughter Honeypreet Insan
|2017||Hind Ka Napak ko Jawab - MSG Lion Heart - 2||Yes||Yes||Sher-E-Hind||Sequel to The Warrior Lion Heart|
Co-directed with Honeypreet Insan
Based on 2016 Uri attack and 2016 India–Pakistan military confrontation
|2017||Jattu Engineer||Yes||Yes||Sghaint Singh Sidhu, Shakti Singh Sisodia||Co-directed with Honeypreet Insan|
Online Gurukul was scheduled to be a future project involving Ram Rahim speaking out against terrorism, along with playing in six different roles. On 2 September 2017, the Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA) and the Cine and TV Artists Association (CINTAA) banned Ram Rahim from future work in Indian film and television for "criminality and moral turpitude".
Awards and recognitions
According to the Guinness World Records, he has organised several events that established world records. These include the largest display of oil lamps (150,009), the largest finger painting (3,900 m² (41,979 ft²)), the largest vegetable mosaic (1,858.07 m² (20,000 ft²)) and the most people sanitising their hands simultaneously (7,675).
Conflict with Sikh groups
In May 2007, Ram Rahim was accused of hurting the religious sentiments of the Sikhs by wearing in an advertisement attire resembling the tenth and final living Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, by using a turban with a kalgi (egret feather). His followers also organised a demonstration against their alleged persecution at the hands of some religious organisations. Ram Rahim was attacked by a mob on 16 July 2007, but escaped unhurt. The Dera Sacha Sauda tendered multiple apologies, regretting confusion over the dress, and stated that it had high regard for all Sikh Gurus, Sikh religion and all of humanity. A multi religion delegation approached the apex Sikh organisation to accept the apology. While not rejecting the apology outright, the Akal Takht maintained it was inadequate on several counts.
A criminal case filed against him, for hurting the Sikh sentiments, was dismissed by the Sirsa court in 2009 and Bathinda court in 2014. Counter-terrorism expert Ajai Sahni has stated that the tensions between the Sikh community and the Dera have been exploited by the pro-Khalistan elements. He has further quoted Indian military intelligence that Iknoor Khalsa Fauj, Khalistan Zindabad Force and Khalistan Commando Force have attempted to eliminate him. In a case where the Dera's followers were accused of being suicide attackers, the Dera has stated publicly that it was being targeted by vested political groups that were conspiring to defame it. The organisation has demanded a judicial probe into the allegations.
On 2 February 2008, Ram Rahim's cavalcade was attacked, with explosives injuring 11 persons. A Khalistan Liberation Force member was later arrested and confessed to arranging explosives and executing the plan along with his associates. After that, Ram Rahim was protected with Z+ security cover.
On 20 June 2008, a group of Sikhs shouted anti-Dera slogans during Ram Rahim's visit to the Nirmal Lifestyles mall in Mumbai. The situation developed into an altercation between the protestors and the Dera followers, and one of the Sikh protestors was killed. This led to further protests from Sikhs in Mumbai and Punjab.
On 27 September 2015, the Akal Takht accepted his apology and pardoned him, but, on observing widespread resentment and protest among Sikhs regarding his pardon, the organisation revoked the pardon on 16 October.
In 2002, a woman wrote to the respective Chief Ministers of the states of Punjab and Haryana, and to the Union Home Minister, CBI, NHRC and the Punjab and Haryana High Court, describing an incident involving Ram Rahim. The Punjab and Haryana High Court sought a report from the District and Sessions Judge of Sirsa, after which Judge MS Sular conducted an inquiry and submitted a report recommending a probe by a central agency.
After the report from Sirsa, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered the CBI to probe into the allegations leveled in the letter. The Chandigarh Branch, CBI registered a case of rape under the IPC Section 376, criminal intimidation under Section 506 and insult to the modesty of a woman under 509. This letter was published in Ram Chander Chhatrapati’s four-page Hindi eveninger, Poora Sach in 2002. A CBI probe was ordered into the incident on 24 September 2002. The investigations involved contacting 18 sadhvis who had left the dera by 2002. In the same year, Ram Rahim had charges levied against him for the murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati, who was writing articles at the time about Dera Sacha Sauda, and for the murder of Dera Sacha Sauda manager Ranjit Singh.
On 25 August 2017, a special CBI court in Panchkula, Haryana, delivered its verdict in a sexual assault case regarding a former Dera sadhvi, finding Ram Rahim guilty of two counts of rape. Ram Rahim was taken into custody. More than 200,000 people had gathered near the court premises ahead of the verdict in Panchkula, Haryana. Following the conviction, there were violent protests in parts of India with reports of widespread vandalism. 31–38 DSS members were killed in clashes with police and another 120–300 people were injured as a result.
On 26 August 2017, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered the police to seize the properties of the group to compensate for the vandalism caused in protests by his supporters.
On 28 August 2017, the CBI court sentenced him to a total of 20 years in jail, 10 years for each of the two rape convictions to be served consecutively. The trial for the alleged murder of reporter Ram Chander Chhatrapati was yet to be heard. Ram Rahim challenged his rape conviction in the Punjab and Haryana High Courts on 9 October 2017.
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