Chandigarh : Dera Sacha Sauda’s notorious chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, has once again been given a vacation from prison. The self-styled godman has been given temporary release from the Sunaria jail in the Rohtak district of Haryana three times this year.
At about 2:00 pm on Tuesday, Singh—who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for the rape of two of his disciples—walked out of the jail. During his 21-day vacation, he would be lodging at the Dera Sacha Sauda Ashram in Barnawa, Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh.
The leader of the sect based in Sirsa had requested a temporary release in order to take advantage of vacation. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee head, Harjinder Singh Dhami, has expressed strong opposition to Singh’s release, stating that he is “serving a sentence for heinous crimes like rape and murder.”
A Look Back at Furloughs
Singh was found guilty in 2017 and has since received many furloughs. A 40-day parole was given to him in January of this year. A 40-day parole was given to him in October of last year. He had been given a month-long parole in June 2022 before that. Additionally, he received a sabbatical of three weeks beginning on February 7, 2022.
Disputes and Legal Difficulties
For the past few years, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the colorful and contentious leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, has been a regular presence in the media. He’s been charged with several offenses, including as murder, rape, and murderous conspiracy.
- Singh was found guilty in 2017 of sexually abusing two of his female followers. For each offense, he received a concurrent 20-year prison sentence.
- Singh was found guilty in 2019 of killing a journalist over 16 years prior. For this offense, he received a life term in jail.
- Singh and four other people were found guilty in 2021 of planning to assassinate Dera manager Ranjit Singh. For this offense, he received a 2.5-year prison sentence.
The Release of Ram Rahim and the Disapproval of the Sikh Community
The Sikh community has voiced considerable opposition to Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s release from furlough. According to Harjinder Singh Dhami, president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Singh is “serving a sentence for heinous crimes like rape and murder.” Additionally, he added that although the Dera chief was frequently given short releases from prison, governments were not paying attention to the Sikh community’s calls for the release of Sikh inmates, or “Bandi Singhs.”
The Sikh community has a lengthy history of demonstrating against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s release. Punjab saw large-scale demonstrations in 2017 following Singh’s rape conviction. Two persons were killed when the protests turned violent in some areas.