Until his conviction and arrest on Friday for rape, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh appeared invincible. But now, sent to prison for 20 years, the controversial Indian guru’s fall from grace is complete and lurid details of his life are emerging.
Known as the “guru of bling” because of his love for outlandish outfits and jewellery, Singh became the “rockstar baba,” acting in films, performing rock concerts, rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty in India.
As a show of strength, he arrived in court on Friday in a cavalcade of more than 100 cars, as tens of thousands of supporters gathered in nearby towns praying for him to be acquitted and threatening to “wipe India off the world map” if he were convicted.
The first whiff of scandal in Singh’s sprawling compound in the northern state of Haryana came in 2002 when one of his female disciples wrote an anonymous letter accusing him of rape.
In the letter, addressed to then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, she described her plight in detail.
“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,” she wrote in the letter.
“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 threatened to kill her, saying that since her family members were his devoted followers with blind faith in him, they wouldn’t go against him. And if they did, he said, it would be a futile exercise since he enjoyed ‘considerable influence with governments’ and politicians, and that he would have them sacked from their jobs and get them killed too.”
The letter writer alleged that she was raped repeatedly over three years, that she was not the only one being exploited, and that if “the press or some government agency” investigated her allegations, “40 to 50 girls living in the Guru’s campus would come forward to reveal the truth.”
The self-styled holy man was found guilty of sexually assaulting two female followers and jailed for 10 years for each, to run consecutively.
Prosecutors had called for a life sentence.
A lawyer for the victims said 50 women had come forward with allegations of rape and they would be seeking further investigation in the case.