Some days ago, speaking at a book launch event, our Chief Justice appealed the journalist to do ‘Investigative Journalism’, according to him “Investigative Journalism is unfortunately vanishing from the media canvas. In the past, we have witnessed newspaper reports on scandals and misconduct creating waves, leading to serious consequences. (But) barring one or two, I don’t recall any story of such magnitude in recent years. Everything in our garden appears to be rosy.”
Indeed, Investigative Journalism is that tool which pierced the veil of many gentlemen’s genteelness. Most of the time pro people, this tool exposed the sins of many ‘virtuous’ people, and helped the common and powerless people to get justice against those sinners.
The book ‘Dera Sacha Sauda and Gurmeet Ram Raheem’ which is authored by a journalist ‘Anurag Tripathi’ also recounts such an investigative journalism. Divided in three parts, this book is one of the best authentic source to know the full account of Gurmeet Ram Raheem and Dera Saccha sauda.
First part of the book narrates the story of sting operation on Dera saccha suada by Anurag Tripathi and his team member ‘Ethmad khan’, this operation was named as ‘Operation Jhootha Sauda’. Both the journalists were associated with ‘Tehalka’ and according to author, ‘Tehalka’ was known for its investigative journalism. Author was also known for his sting operations, which were included ‘busting an AK-47 arms racket in western Uttar Pradesh, exposing corruption in the power sector in Andhra Pradesh, unravelling a drug racket run by an MLA in Lucknow, and bringing to light the issue of fake certificates in Uttar Pradesh’.
Author was the part of Investigative team of Tehalka when one day they received an unknown call, caller informed them that he had some papers and information about a sect called ‘Sacha Suada’, he requested them to meet at some place, when they met he told them that he is a distant relative of a journalist ‘Ram Chandra Chhatrapati’ who was murdered due to his reports exposing the black deeds of Dera. The information of this person lead the way to do a sting operation on Dera saccha suada. Two members team which was included author and his colleague ‘Ethmad Khan’ drove to Sirsa and investigated the case.
Second Part inform us the backstory of Dera Saccha Suada, the birth and the early two chiefs of Dera and the story of grabbing the position of Dera Chief by Gurmeet forcibly. It also narrates the horrors inside the dera, an important interview with the ‘ex-husband’ and father-in-law of infamous Honeypreet.
Third part focused on the death of Ram Chandra Chattrapati, the conditions and reasons in which he died and the long and tiresome battle of justice by his son Anshul Chattrapati. This part also recounts the violence which was spreaded by dera followers on the roads of Punjab and Harayana during the arrest of Gurmeet Ram Raheem. And the book finally ends with the verdict of Gurmeet’s case. Author also recalls the extraordinary conditions when CBI Judge came in helicopter to sentence Gurmeet.
A true page turner, gripping and too informative book on Dera and Gurmeet Ram Raheem, disclose the horror and such type of sins of Gurmeet which can terrify the heart of any person.
Besides other grave allegations of murder, illegal occupation of properties and such other cases, Gurmeet case was best known for rape allegation by Sadhvis. This was the main allegation which attracted the attention of Media and people towards him.
Sadhvi’s letter, which she wrote to then prime minister Atal Bihar Vajpayi and other high position holders of Punjab and Haryana about the rapes and conditions of girls inside the dera, contained very disturbing facts about the girls’ condition at Dera. Gurmeet used to try a pattern while abusing the bodies of girls. The one line by which he used to convince the girls was that,
“I (she) had dedicated my(her) wealth, body and soul to him and he had accepted my offering. By this logic, your body and soul are mine now, he said.”
This used to follow with threats of death to the family members of girls. The horror was not just one night but it used to become the part of the life. The letter further revealed that,
“For the past three months, my turn comes every twenty to thirty days. Now, I realize that he has been raping other girls staying with him.”
When journalist Chttrapati published this letter in his local newspaper of Sirsa and people came to know verbatim of the letter, the henchmen of dera became active there. Author writes that,
“The extent of intimidation is Sirsa could be gauged from the fact that when the letter surfaced, Dera followers set fire to a Photostat shop where some people were making copies of letter. People were beaten up at crossroads when found in possession of the letter.”
As per the information of the book, after facing such miserable conditions at Dera when girls tried to escape form there and went their homes, their blind believer parents returned them to Dera by saying them that they ran because they could not get to watch movies and songs there.
The horror tales were not limited just to the Girls; boys were also subjected to such brutal torture. ‘Distant relative’ of Chhatrapati told the author and his team member about the forced castration of some Dera Disciples at the behest of its chief. According to that ‘distant relative’, Gurmeet did so to make those boys his lifelong slaves, his object was to use them in his private army. This private army had the name ‘Qurbani Dasta’, the member of this army were used to prepare to spill blood for Gurmeet at his single command.
This castration which used to held at a hospital of Gurmeet’s home village, converted the lives of those castrated boys into living hell. One of the castrated person who was also the part of Gurmeet’ s private army told to the author that
“Even Seventeen years after the surgery, the pain refuse to go…it feels as if hundreds of scorpion are biting me at the same time.”
According to book, Gurmeet’s sins had code names such as ‘mafi mil gayi’ (granted pardon) for rape of sadhvis; ‘Rehmat Ho Gayi’ (he has been blessed) for castration’ ‘isse farmhouse bhejdiya’ (he has been sent to farmhouse) to execute the murder of someone., kanta nikalo’ (pull out the thorn) for the murder of any person who creating problem for Dera.
There was another horror, those boys and girls who used to try to escape from Dera and caught, were beaten up and put in the torturing room for days without food and daily brutal beating.
This book is indeed documented the case of Gurmeet and Dera Sacha Suada vey articulately. It covered almost every aspect of the case and also presented the story in a very gripping way. One of the good thing about the narration is that author did not dive in the past amid the story. It is the problem with such reporting non-fiction that author start to tell about their past in the middle of the story and this looking back things cools down the curious sense of the readers. In this book, Author used separate chapters to tell the backstory of the case.
However, there still are many things which could be explained in the book about the case, but, as this was the book of a journalist so he wrote what he found in his investigation. But there are many other facts which could be told if any CBI officer who was the member of investigative team of Gurmeet’s case, writes a book. However, Author also wrote an interview with the CBI officer who investigation this case.
Also, there is not any instance which tell us what was the effect of Author’s sting operation on Dera and Grumeet’s case. Author just told us that the story of sting operation ran on India TV.
But, if we ignore such these little things, then this book emerges as a true recommendation for every person from law, journalism and every that person who love to read about such cases.
This article is written by Arshi hayat Gnagohi. She is a lawyer, blogger at ababeelfolks and writes on laws, culture, books, cinema, food and literature.