Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted on Monday and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The self styed guru rose to prominence as the leader of Dera Sacha Sauda, a religious sect that was established in 1948. Under him, the sect saw growth in substantial terms. Based in Sirsa, Haryana, the Dera describes itself as a ‘non profit social welfare and spiritual organisation’. He recently started producing films and releasing music albums. He is best known for ‘MSG’ and ‘MSG 2’, which are films that glorify his already colourful persona. Also known as the ‘guru of bling’, he has headed the sect for a while now.
In 2002, a woman wrote a letter to the Chief Ministers reporting the sexual assault that she went through at the hands of the sect leader. A CBI probe led to the surfacing of evidence and allegations after investigating 18 sadhvis who had already left the group by 2002. Charges of murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati were also levied on the godman. Over a decade later, a special CBI court set up in Panchkula delivered its verdict. CBI judge Jagdeep Singh found him guilty on two counts of rape and following the conviction, riots ensued, killing 30 people and injuring hundreds all over Haryana and the immediate area. Weapons like guns and grenades were confiscated from the sect’s followers.