London: August 30, 2017. (PCP) Christian leaders from the areas of Haryana, and the Punjab are living in fear of an unprovoked attack from followers of infamous Guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh (50 yrs) a convicted rapist.
Judge Jagdeep Singh sentenced the controversial Indian guru leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect to 20 years imprisonment for the sexual assault of two women followers of his sect, on Friday 25th August 2017. He said convicted felon Guru Gurmeet deserved the "maximum punishment" because he had "projected himself as a Godman and taken undue advantage of his position and authority",
In 2002 one of his female disciples wrote an anonymous letter to then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajyapee accusing him of rape. In her letter, she wrote: "Maharaj (Singh) took me in his embrace and said that he loved me from the core of his heart. He also said that he wanted to make love with me,"
"He told me that at the time of becoming his disciple, I had dedicated my wealth, body and soul to him and he had accepted my offering. When I objected he said, 'There is no doubt that I am God'."
The letter was printed in a local newspaper named 'Poora Such' (The Whole Truth) by Ram Chander Chhatrapati who was shot dead weeks after print. Guru Gurmeet is believed to be the architect of this murder.
Lead Officer for the British Asian Christian Association in India, Pastor Harjot Singh, described the mood of Christians in the states of Haryana and the Punjab, where a series of riots have erupted in recent days, he said:
"On hearing about the conviction followers of Guru Gurmeet rioted in Panchkula. 32 people were killed by fanatical zealots of the sect and an estimated 350 were injured with further riots expected. Rampagers smashed cars, homes and businesses and then set them alight.
"Christian leaders were warned about attacks on churches should Guru Gurmeet be convicted. The men who made the threats were very serious and extra Police protection was provided to religious buildings which prevented a crises.
Christians are an easier target for hooligans like these who have previously targeted Sikhs and have a close link with the reigning Hindu fundamentalist BJP party (click here).
"I call upon Christians across the world to pray for a restoration of peace in India and an end to the unnecessary violence we have seen in recent days."
Guru Gurmeet's global following is claimed to be around 60 million followers for a sect that he took over when he was 23. Dera Sacha Sauda describes itself as "a non-profit social welfare and spiritual organisation" but leader Gurmeet has be known to perform at rock concerts, act in films and even has his own line of food products.
During his reign as leader of the sect Guru Gurmeet has been accused of mocking Sikh and Hindu figures and more alarmingly has been accused of forcing followers to undergo castration to "get closer to god"
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said: "It seems incredulous that religious leaders could have such power and authority enabling them to thwart justice for so long.
"Guru Gurmreet used the adoration of his followers to propel himself to a god-like status, a position he used to coerce young women into a cycle of sexual abuse based on fear of physical and economic ramifications, or being ostracized by their own families - his devotees. (click here)
"He expounded virtues of chastity, humility, modesty and self-sacrifice yet himself lived a glamorous, self-aggrandizing and frivolous life. Unchecked by Government officials and with no authoritative or guiding body to restrain his egotistical proclivity he became a danger to the people he was meant to serve.
"Guru Gurmreet's followers mainly consists of downtrodden, deprived members of the lower castes in India, people disenfranchised by a hierarchical culture in which conventional politics and faith fail them. Their vulnerable position leads them to join unconventional faiths and groups where they find acceptance and perceived equality.
Of course, even professionals and the well-educated gain succor from positive spiritual messages and over time Guru Gurmeet built a core group of elites who espoused his cause.
"His growing power and influence attracted support from politicians seeking to benefit from his popularity including members of the current BJP Regime. Sadly, this mix of politics and faith enabled Guru Gurmreet to become above reproach and has enabled him to exert huge control over his followers amassing huge wealth from their toil.
"Sadly the laws of few nations protect against religious leaders intent on personal gain. Moreover, despite a dark history of faith leaders across the board involved in human rights abuses such as rape and promotion of castration in Guru Gurmeet's case, authorities step in too late or fail to step in at all.
"Using a faith organisation as a conduit for wealth is not a new concept nor is it confined to non-conventional faiths. People of faith the world over need to be aware of man’s infallibility and ensure that the faith organsation they belong to has a defined financial policy and that any leaders actions are accountable to the entity they belong to."