5 years ago Hill residents had demanded Baba Ram Rahim be declared Persona non grata in Darjeeling
Darjeeling, August 26, 2017: While an anonymous letter from a female disciple in 2002 to the then Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee resulted in the conviction of Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in the rape case, earlier it was the women force of Darjeeling that had halted the self styled flamboyant God man's advances in the Queen of the Hills.
Darjeeling in 2012 had demanded that Singh and his followers be declared Persona non grata (unwelcome or unwanted) in the Hills.
Darjeeling's tryst with the Baba goes back to 2011. Having failed to set up base in Nepal and Sikkim, the Baba chose Darjeeling as his base in West Bengal. Since 2011 the Baba had been frequenting the Hills.
Initially people in the Hills did not mind the Baba's quaint ways. His flamboyant ways; riding an all terrain vehicle in town and his bizarre dress up (usually in tight slacks) surrounded by young Sadhvis dressed in white quickly earned him the name "Slacks- Baba" in the Hills.
He along with his followers, shot into the limelight while pitching in to help in the devastating fire at the main market square of Darjeeling on April 20, 2012.
A company in the name of ARZ Enterprises then bought 4 acres of land at Bokshijhor, 3km from Darjeeling town in September 2011. The Baba started constructing an ashram in this plot.
Dera Sacha Sauda followers arrived in Darjeeling and started constructing a two storied structure in the land that was to serve as an Ashram. However, work was halted by the Darjeeling Municipality.
"Without a building plan passed and mutation the construction had started. We have given them time till June 6, 2012 to dismantle the two storied structure failing which the Darjeeling Municipality had decided to dismantle it" stated Amar Singh Rai, the then Chairman of the Darjeeling Municipality.
On June 7, 2012, the Gorkha Janmukti Nari Morcha (GJNM) along with other frontal organisations of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in a memorandum to the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police, Darjeeling requested that Baba Gurmeer Ram Rahim Singh and his followers hailing from "other states" be declared Persona non grata in Darjeeling.
On a more threatening note, they have pledged to stop the Baba's climb to the Hills from the foothills at Sukna, if the Dera Sacha Sauda Chief plans to return back to the Darjeeling Hills.
In what was a mammoth rally witnessed by the Hills in recent times supporters of the GJM including school students, carrying black flags, marched in unison to halt Baba Ram Rahim's return back to the Hills.
In the memorandums, the GJNM had then written "As you are aware that this sect in shrouded in controversies like rape, murder and conspiracy. The Baba and his disciples are unwelcome to establish a foothold in Darjeeling. We strongly feel that Darjeeling will be a better place without them. Their stay is catalysing social unrest which will precipitate serious law and order problems."
There were widespread allegations that the followers of Baba were trying to lure womenfolk from the age group of 18-30 years with jobs of domestics promising to pay Rs. 2500/- a month. They were taking advantage of the unemployed economically deprived women of the Hills, complained many.
The people of Darjeeling specially women had begun to feel intimidated by Baba's followers who were constantly throwing their weight around in town.
There were allegations that Baba's men, especially his Z plus category security, caused immense jams, threw out people from market complexes and restaurants during Baba's visits to these places and even stopped Ambulances thereby making way for Baba's cavalcade. There had been a number of confrontations between Baba's followers and locals.
His cavalcade included 4 black luxury high-end vehicles of the same make, identical looks and even sporting the same numbered plates. He used to ride in one and the rest were used as decoy vehicles.
The house at Bokshi Jhora is still under construction. All the Municipal formalities required for construction have been completed. A few Dera Sacha Sauda disciples can still be seen in the house.
"Baba is innocent. He has not done anything wrong" stated a disciple from Haryana who has been residing in the unfinished building in Darjeeling and helping with the construction. There are unconfirmed reports that the Baba had plans to sell off the building.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for the last time had arrived in the Hills on May 31, 2012. Fearing unrest, he had cut short his stay and hurriedly departed on June 6, 2012. He has not returned to Darjeeling since then.