Source: The Hitavada      Date: 27 Aug 2017 09:51:34

WHAT was on display in Punjab and Haryana on Friday after the conviction of self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, was a pathetic show of blind servitude by the Baba’s misguided followers. The 50-year-old was found guilty of raping two Sadhvis in the Dera premises in 2002. He was convicted by a special CBI court that triggered widespread violence and arson resulting in over 31 deaths and massive loss of public property.

By finding Ram Rahim guilty of sexually exploiting two of his female followers, the judiciary has once again risen above political and other clouts to deliver a milestone judgement. As per a former CBI official’s account, he was pressurised to close the case as soon as it was taken up following an anonymous letter by two Sadhvis in the Dera to then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The violent aftermath of the judgement was expected by Intelligence and police authorities. However, its magnitude caught them on the wrong foot. In this light, the Punjab and Haryana Governments’ response proved inadequate, resulting in loss of life and property. Both the State Governments could have done more given the steady build-up of the Dera’s followers in lakhs in Sirsa and Panchkula before the court verdict.

The fact that the Dera supporters had started storing petrol, diesel, swords and other weapons in the premises talks about the activities the sect was supporting. The vandalism, rioting and killing in support of a self-styled godman guilty of rape was again a sorry case of blind faith in an individual.
India is a home of spiritual gurus but none teaches violence as a mean of support and expression. Such misplaced faith, as shown by Baba Ram Rahim’s followers, defeats the social fabric and spiritual identity of the nation. It also casts unnecessary aspersions on other spiritual leaders, whose untiring efforts in inculcating a noble thought in their followers for the good of humanity are well appreciated the world over.

Faith and fanaticism are two sides of the same coin. Faith is a tool that helps in indulging in societal good with confidence. Fanaticism often prods people to cross the line of moral sense. Baba Ram Rahim’s followers, who resorted to violence and killing of the innocent, showed what misguided fanaticism can do. The way the followers reacted to the court verdict proves what the Dera cult was all about.
The mayhem in Haryana also points to a section of the society that is still regressive. Sanity becomes the first victim in such a society that refuses to grow up.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has done well to attach assets of the Dera if their supporters are found guilty of killing and destruction of properties. The guilty must not be spared.