Repeated Cases of Constitutional Break Down in Haryana (India)

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Muscat, Oman – This is really very unfortunate what happened in Panchkula after court decision pronouncing jail term to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who was found guilty of rape charges. Opposition chant of President’s rule may be premature, perhaps motivated. Yet Manohar Lal Khattar, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician, and current Chief Minister of Haryana state in India, has proved beyond all doubt that he is incapable of holding any public office. If Party or RSS hold him high esteem, they have good many high profile positions, let him have all.This is the third incidence of breakdown of law and order under Khattar.

Debate on who is to blamed for riots after conviction of Ram Rahim will continue with arguments for and against the State Govt depending on political leaning of the individuals. But the basic debate has to be on a different topic – how come such large number of people come under such strong influence of fake “spiritual gurus”. How to stop people from getting deeply influenced by such characters has to be matter of serous debate. News reports say that the High Court has not only frozen Ram Rahim’s assets but also the assets and properties of Dera. Apparently, the High Court even gave the order to expropriate the assets of DSS by the state to compensate for the riots. The media’s narrative that the riots were to protect a rapist needs to be taken only with a pinch of salt. Sure, this Ram Rahim fellow has built a personal empire by cheating Bahujans and he is no hero of theirs. But him or rather the Dera he leads is possibly the last space for them to have a voice in a region where they are terribly marginalized.

Babas and Gurus are able to weild influence over large population due to ignorance of people. Such ignorance can be of educated minds also. The root cause is that we have drifted far away from our core values and preachings, more so after the independence, in the name of pseudo-secularism. That is the reason we needed so many reformers in last couple of centuries- Maharishi Dayanand, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidysagar, Tilak, Bankim Chandra, Aurobindo and so on. Deras are important politically at least for Punjab. These deras played important role during Punjab militancy in keeping people from rural Punjab away from terror. All central governments irrespective of who is in power in Delhi treat these deras as assets. Recently in Punjab elections, Ram Rahim dera voted for congress strategically with the blessings from centre to keep AAP base of Khalistanis away from power. Dera Sacha Sauda is a largely Bahujan, usually Dalit, faith system and has a history much beyond this one guy.

It is class war going on in Punjab, Haryana and some parts of Rajasthan where supporters of Dera who are mainly dalits from Sikh and Hindu community feel that their guru Ram Rahim has been fixed by higher castes particularly Akali Dal. Some fifteen years back Ram Rahim had dressed himself like some Guru and there were protests in whole of Punjab. During those times this case of rape had also appeared in press. Though it is a case of rape but it can be politically dangerous for peace and the government had to handle it carefully and sensitively. The pseudo-secularist education policy has ensured that the majority remains devoid of any moral and philosophical teachings throughout the curriculum. It is almost sacrilegious to teach virtues of righteousness by such examples as that of a Dhruv, Prahlad, Shravan Kumar and so on. In the din of sectarian politics even Yoga has become a taboo, what to talk of Gita, which is a nonsectarian philosophical discourse. Such a scenario has left a large vacuum in collective conscious of the majority, which has become prone to be taken advantage of in the prevailing ignorance and is effectively filled by these babas and gurus exploiting people.

So far as politicians are concerned, they will continue to run after vote banks. Vote bank politics has been practiced by all political parties since independence and I don’t see any respite from that. It is a complex case in my personal opinion and we may not even stop such incidents in the future. There are many other religions also have a slander on gurus, there are some free roaming and caught some. However, all religions are doing such events and engage in criminal activities. This is happening right now. It will not be fair. You will remember in 1984 in the Golden Temple.

In Punjab and Haryana, the communist and Ambedkarite movements were systematically killed off one after the other by pumping up the dominance of the Jats and Khatris. And no other political mobilization has been allowed in their place, except for this “satsang” group. The media reports cuts off this entire historical baggage that gave this organization the opportunity to prosper. Dera filled a vacuum left by the failures of the Left and Ambedkarite political mass mobilization in Punjab and Haryana, and turned that into a spiritual space. In fact, the Dera worked more effectively in consolidating Dalit votes in the region than any other ideologically political movement of liberation and dignity. In the end Ram Rahim knows that the mistakes are caught. If not, there is still the way to appeal to the high court.

Mousumi Roy
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Mousumi Roy has a Masters (MA - Political Science) from Calcutta University and is a visiting professor of International Relations in Muscat, Oman

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