Baba Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insa , Chief of the Dera Saccha Sauda, Headquarters at Sirsa in Hariyana and a following of a few millions all over India and some foreign countries too, has been awarded rigorous imprisonment for 10 years each for rape of two Sadhvis, which means a total of 20 years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of rupees 30 lakhs.
The case was filed in the special CBI court in Panchkula, Haryana by the CBI in 2002. Though it has taken 15 long years for it to reach the stage of sentencing, it has engaged public attention since 25th August when he was required to attend the hearing in the case at Panchkula. The accused rapist Gurmeet Singh RR created some drama but was convicted. He was moved by helicopter to Rohtak (unusual but required for security reasons). Today he was awarded the sentence.
The Haryana Government, particularly the chief Minister, has been criticized by everyone for mishandling the situation leading to 38 deaths and 350 injured. The media has condemned the government and the Chief Minister. Some quarters have also asked questions of the Prime Minister, who condemned the violence on 27th August in his Man Ki Baat radio programme.
The BJP has muddied the waters further by marshalling silly explanations and justification by highly inept spokespersons on television channels. In this heightened environment, it is absolutely necessary to go a bit deeper into the spread and influence of these Babas and their Deras in the two states of Punjab and Haryana.
A few stats need to be studied to appreciate properly the Panchkula show of 25th August 2017 by the supporters of the Chief of Dera Saccha Sauda Gurmeet RR and the subsequent violence. Number of Villages/Deras in Punjab alone are stated to be 12,000 and 9000 (both Sikh & Non-Sikh Deras) respectively by one estimate. Haryana has many more. Prominent among them are: Sant Nirankari, Radha Soami Satsang Beas, Naamdhaari, Dera Saccha Sauda, Dera Divya Jyoti Sansthan and thousand others.
Their emergence, constant increase in numbers, followers etc. are a study in social and economic disparities besides attempts for reforms in Sikh religion. Violence is a part of these cults as they challenge the supremacy of the Akal Takht, the supreme authority of Sikh religion. Some of these Deras are exclusively for the (so called) lower castes, which suffer discrimination even though Sikhism professes equality of all.
Even Hindu, Christian and Muslim communities suffer similar rebel groups. None of them has accepted whole heartedly the reforms and their value in developing socio-economic environment. The Hindu religious following has shrunk to almost a minority in India over the centuries only because it refused to change. Consequently it lost a large chunk of its followers to Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity and Islam.
These Deras provide the solace sought by the individuals: the dignity of a name and identity, an association of minds and bodies reassuring common security, a political voice of their own, the experience of high living and good food for a few days during Satsang (akin to holidays of the rich and mighty) and giving up fright of the superior castes and acquiring boldness of a new kind and above all a sense of freedom from all kinds of inhibitions and right to live life as it pleases them.
What more can one ask for? The Constitution does not give them all this even if they show the same reverence to it as they do to the Baba at the Dera. They see in the Dera Chief more than the government, judiciary and the armed forces. For them the Dera Chief is all that they desire and if he goes away there is nothing to fall back upon. Levels of knowledge, understanding and wisdom differ from place to place and person to person. Any action by the government in the name of law and order is bound to be met by the followers of these Dera Chief with unimagined scale of violence, the cost to control will be enormous in terms of money and number of casualties.
Above all, the boiling point of such followers in India is rather low, whether in Punjab or Bengaluru, Kashi or Kolkata, Kashmir or Kanyakumari. It is this reality that all political parties exploit in Punjab & Haryana to get to the throne or dethrone their rival.
Politicians have learnt the art and science of taking all such developments very coolly without betraying any sense of anxiety in the face of media slashing and opposition whipping. If the politician exhibits a foolish demenour in these circumstances, as Khattar indeed did, it is by choice to beguile the masses. Khattar succeeded in drawing Gurmeet Singh RR from his fortress at Sirsa to the court in Panchkula and thereafter transporting him to Rohtak and put him in jail giving the Dera Premis (devotees) the impression that he and the government is with them and the Dera Chief, and that he is only doing this minimum because of the court order. This drama by politicians of India across party lines may go on as long as it is rewarding in terms of votes and support in elections and its funding from donation to these Deras.
Right thinking masses might feel a sense of betrayal and anger, but this is only a variety of humour in India. To understand this humour one needs to understand that even as India is one, the Indians are 125 crore and each one of them is different from the other. This is visible only when one examines closely the humorous politicians in different states e.g. Mamata of West Bengal, Lalu of Bihar, Mulayam of UP, Karunanidhi of Tamil Nadu, Parkash Singh Badal of Punjab etc. In Haryana/ Punjab it is common parlance to trivialize serious matters in these words “koi gal nahi” or “sab chalata hai”.
Panchkula type situations are traps to catch the careless wader in politics. The Chief Minister can either sacrifice his government on charges of incompetence for not using force against the agitators as ordered by the Punjab & Haryana High Court or get thrown out for massacre of innocent people. Strangely, there is no opportunity for the masters of fanning communal violence in Haryana or Punjab in the name of killing of the minority (defined by them restrictively). A wiser Chief Minister must skillfully navigate in Haryana & Punjab.
Khattar should be judged on this scale. Ordinary law-abiding people don’t really understand the tricks of politicians who in India hunt with the hound and run with the hare.
Khattar is undoubtedly the most incompetent fellow to be the Chief Minister. Is this the quality of Chief Ministers of Narendra Modi’s dream New India? Decidedly Khattar has destroyed the very idea of that New India in just 10 days flat (born 15th August killed 25th August 2017).
The Narendra Modi as we know him and his leadership commitment, would have given marching orders to Khattar on the 25th itself just after seeing the mockery of security arrangements which drew the ire of the High Court when it threatened to suspend the Director General of Haryana Police because Gurmeet Singh RR drove in a procession of more than 200 cars from Sirsa to Panchkula court.
Obviously, Modi must have been reined by some power which didn’t want it’s beloved child Khattar to be so punished.
That power has saved Khattar but lost Modi. Their unacceptable explanations and justifications for the Khattar ineptitude to handle the law & order situation in Panchkula and subsequent destruction of public property, casualties and attack on media persons has further infuriated the public. Demands from the public for the scalp of Khattar and his DGP and Home Secretary have been already made. The kind of tongue lashing the High Court has done is perhaps the most unprecedented.
It is hoped that the other High Courts in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Kolkata will instill the same constitutional sense in the governments which actively promote violence and destruction of public property whether defacing coaches of metro trains in Bengaluru or attacking outsiders in Mumbai or burning alive the General Managers in their factories by goons in Kolkata.
Having said that, Khattar can be spared to some extent in view of the foregoing and the following.
After all, Khattar has only inherited it all from the previous Congress government, which has yet to come to terms with the horrendous defeat it suffered for the first time from the BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party of Khattar/ Narendra Modi). The BJP and Khattar must have been aware of the Pandora’s box, which the Congress deftly took extreme care not to open. Khattar was forced by the High Court to open it, though the court was silent all these years on this case of 2002. The Congress lost Haryana but continues to have a good following among the Jat community from which its leader Bhupendra Singh Hooda comes. Hooda is not only an experienced politician but also comes from a well-known political family of Haryana- his father was one among the framers of the Constitution of India whose signatures can be seen on the original document and who was a minister in the Punjab government before its bifurcation into Punjab & Haryana. Besides, the Congress has recently come to power in Punjab and its Chief Minister, Amrinder Singh, is not only an old horse of Indian politics but also the scion of the old princely State of Patiala. He has been Chief Minister earlier too and a member of parliament. His wife was a minister in the last Congress Government of Manmohan Singh. With such seasoned politicians waiting to make a feast of the first time MLA Khattar for any mistake in handling the crowds, the Chief Minister proved sagacious for his short term in office. The Chief Minister opted for the time tested sutra for survival that discretion is the better part of valour. Can he be faulted blindly for avoiding violence to the extent possible?
After all, politics is the art of survival in a vortex of complex claims and dilemmas.
That allowance, however, can’t be made to Khattar’s party, which offered no better choice to the people of Haryana. The people, unhappy with the Congress dispensation for many reasons, chose the BJP hoping to get a better government. Today they have nothing more to regret than having voted the BJP to power. The arrogance, bordering on foolishness, of the BJP is going to prove very costly to the party and most of all, the prime minister personally, who is perceived to be a no nonsense prime minister.
The BJP has to correct its course immediately and retrieve the lost ground before it is too late. They have proved themselves no different from the Congress. A few months more in this mould and the Congress will emerge powerful in Haryana.
The chances of the BJP winning the 2019 parliament elections may be difficult. The BJP has not improved a bit since 2014. Its nominee in Khattar is a poor selection as the man has not learnt any governance skills in so many years. BJP can’t rule without Manohar Parrikars in every state as Chief Ministers. To be modern is not anti Indian culture the BJP dreams to reinvent. They presently suffer from the phobia of Narendra Modi turning Gandhian or Congress slowly.
Is Prime Minister Narendra Modi turning the promise of making India Congress Mukt by casting the BJP as Congress Yukta? That alone can explain the conflict between him and the party, especially its affiliates.
The nation rejects with full force the mindset of Mr. Sakshi and his ilk. Such fellows will take time to learn, grow, modernize and join the modern day global knowledge society. But India is already there and will not opt out for such obscure minds.
Is the Prime Minister listening? ManMohan Singh followed Gandhi’s three monkeys and the Congress paid the price. Narendra Modi is different. Reassure us, Mr. Prime Minister, that we are right.
Update: It is 10 years RI in two rape cases, which will run consecutively. It totals up to 20 years RI. Besides the court has also imposed fine on the convict amounting to 30 lakh rupees, out of which 14 lakh each will be given to the two victims.