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Baba Ram Raheem - a dangerous cocktail of politics and faith
The readers of 'Merinews' might have already imbibed an overdose of violence in the aftermath of the Dera chief's sentencing and the inept handling by the state government as well as the apathy of the Centre.

Needless to say how this RSS/BJP juggernaut would have behaved had a similar incident taken place in any non-BJP-run state. I won't bother the readers with all those details.

So, let us muse about our Indian way of life first. In our country, religion plays an important role and in our day-to-day life we have a lot of ostentations about religion. There is no surprise that the term 'secular' is transmuted into 'sickular' and there was no delinking between religion and politics. Gandhi ji had been preaching brotherhood till his last breath among the different reĀ­ligious Indian groups and Nehru tried to inculcate secularism among the countrymen. However, their efforts could not divorce religion from politics. Today, the RSS has taken charge of the country exploiting caste and religion and we can see what has become of the Indian Dream.

Today, our religious places are being used for political propaganda and the religious sentiments of the people are excited in order to gain political control. Mixing of religion with politics is a dangerous trend because parochial religious attitudes are diametrically opposed to democratic feelings. Religion often suspends our reasoning power and we repose full faith in manipulative leaders. Democracy is not an easy game; it calls for open mindedness, tolerance, universal brotherhood and thinking based upon reason. There is no room for herd tendency in true democracy.

When the psuedo-religious forces become powerful anywhere, they sow the seeds of divisions in society and ultimate disintegration. Religion is a private affair and if it is allowed to appear dominant in public affairs it will corrupt politics also. History is awash with crimes committed in the name of religion in the past as well as in the present and we cannot forget that. It is necessary to keep religion apart from politics.

And when the accidental hybrid of religion and politics finds more oxygen than is needed to survive, the society has to come face to face with the bio-political disasters like Baba Ram Raheem. The Baba was born into a rich landlord's family in Sri Ganganagar (Rajasthan) in 1967. He took over Dera Sacha Sauda in 1990 when he was barely 23-years-old. The Dera, under him expanded its influence beyond the borders of states (UP, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan) to US, UK, Canada, Australia and the UAE. The Baba's opulent lifestyle has however raised questions about his finances.

Money imparts power and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The result is before us. In the climax of his story, thirty eight people lost their lives in Haryana after Sauda followers went on a rampage following the conviction of their religious sect's chief by a CBI court in two rape cases of 2002. As many as 524 persons were arrested in Panchkula; 24 vehicles were seized, five pistols with 79 rounds and two rifles with 52 rounds were recovered.

After Punjab and Haryana High Court passed an order to seize properties of Dera Sacha Sauda to pay for the damages by its rampaging followers, this tweet of Subramanian Swami appeared at 5:42 am on 25 August 2017:

"A new threat to Sadhus: Politicians & ashramites wanting to grab Ashram wealth by sending the Swamijis to jail. Sadhus must groom successors."

And, why to be nonplussed? We were enlightened at Sirsa, Haryana, on October 11, 2014 in Shri Modi's speech about Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in the following reverential terms:

"Mein guru maharaj Ram Singhji, Mastanji ke Sacha Sauda ki bhumi ko pranam karta hun (I salute Ram Singhji, Mastanji's Sacha Sauda's land)."

Readers of Merinews can easily recall and verify that ministers of Haryana government have also donated crores of rupees to Dera Sacha Sauda at various points of time. To hit the nail in the head, the Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma had donated Rs 51 lakhs, Sports Minister Anil Vij Rs 50 lakh and Manish Gover Rs 11 lakh.

Haryana Assembly elections were to be held on October 15, 2014 and BJP needed the support of spiritual group Dera Sacha Sauda which had a huge clout. You know the outcome! At least 19 MLAs of the BJP in Haryana led by party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya had gone and paid their respects at the Dera in 2014 soon after the BJP came to power in Haryana.

When Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's film 'Jattu Engineer' was released, Haryana government declared it 'tax free'. Other than leaders in Haryana BJP, BJP leaders and spokespersons from other states have also attended Ram Rahim Singh's film release functions smiling for the lens of the camera and Dera premis.

And see, how the land lies now:

Baba is fully exposed now and cooling his heels behind prison bars. Unfortunately, even after such humiliation and mortification, the BJP leaders continue to defend him. BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj somehow believes that if a person has a huge number of devotees, the evidence presented in a court of law based on which a person has been convicted is not valid and that one proven accusation of rape is not enough.

And, the CM's office issued a statement claiming that the violence was the handiwork of certain anti-social elements that got mixed up with the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda thus shying away from putting direct blame on the followers.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Justice SS Saron, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Avneesh Jhingan, while hearing a PIL filed by local advocate Ravinder Dhull on security arrangements, yesterday accused the state government of "complete collusion" with Dera followers. The High Court also slammed the state government for issuing two "shoddy" Section 144 CrPC orders, in which the Panchkula district administration ordered that they shall only bar entry of people "moving with weapons".

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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