On 25 August 2017, the special CBI court in Haryana convicted the self – proclaimed Godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim of two rape cases in a judgment which was both controversial and a milestone. Controversial, because the Dera followers erupted in hostile and bloody protests, creating mayhem in the entire North India. A milestone, because the courage of 2 daring women was finally rewarded with justice in full acclaim.

The case dates back to 2002 when a Dera Sadhvi put up enough guts to send a letter to the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee complaining about sexual assault from Gurmeet Ram Rahim. The letter initiated action on the part of Haryana and Punjab court who called for a CBI investigation into the matter. After 5 years since commencing their investigation, the CBI was able to file a charge sheet against Gurmeet Ram Rahim. The reason was the sexual assault allegations by 2 sadhvis out of a nearly 40 who were interviewed. The case began in 2007 and was underplay for 10 years before finally coming to a verdict.

The court’s decree did not find a positive reception in the Dera cult and the day after the hearing turned into sheer bloodshed across the states of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi. The Dera supporters took to gory violence and destruction of public property. The city of Panchkula was in smoke for the days that followed the verdict. One of the reasons for this chaos is government’s failure to take quick precautionary actions before the day of the verdict. It was the Haryana and Punjab government’s inefficacy in imposing Section 144 and maintaining order that lead to such massive disruptive riots.

Mayhem in the Name of Spirituality

What is appalling to notice is the awfully brainwashed state of the Dera followers who readily spread bloodshed in support of a convicted rapist. The self – styled Godman, like all the others of his kind, is known to have a huge faction of devotees. The blind loyalty of these bhakts and their gruesome attacks favoring a rapist have ashamed every facet of humanity. While there can be no justification for any such violence, a violence so enormous created in the name of spirituality is even more condemnable.

What these blind supporters fail to see is the innate corruption of their demigods, hidden under the reprehensible veil of religion. It is our society’s patriarchal conduct which has created a population of people agreeably justifying as brutal a crime as rape against women. The endeavors for gender parity and feminism will continue to face ugly defeats on the hands of such hedonistic babas and their shortsighted supporters till they continue to spread patriarchy far and wide.

So Much for Women Empowerment?

Empowerment of the female sect has become so major an issue that every one of the upper-class Indians speaks on the issue with grave intent. People are openly identifying themselves as feminists and much progress is underplay on the matter. But our hypocrisy could not have died a more certain death than in the Ram Rahim case. While the learned gentry of the Indian society favor women empowerment in all its facets, 2 women fought an almost fatal fight against such a man as Ram Rahim for 17 years, all by themselves.

Those of us who are celebrating the verdict and condemning such Godmen on their social media and blogs are the same people who chose to remain ignorant of the case for 17 years. On the one hand, there are protests and demonstrations against rapists all over the country to ask for laws and changes. But, on the other, everyone chooses to remain silent when faced with the power of a fake Guru in the fear of consequences. If 2 women could fight this man without anybody’s support, then why couldn’t we? Such is the hold of patriarchy in our society.

It is important to bring to a close the monopoly of people like Ram Rahim to create a healthy societal environment for the people. It is also important to address the glitches in our notions of women empowerment to raise a stronger voice against any such criminals in the future. The power rests in our hands, we can either choose to create violence or bring an end to patriarchy.

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