Inside Ram Rahim's modern day Xanadu: Operations at Dera HQ unearth skeletons, hidden tunnels and chief's secret life

The three-day long search operation at jailed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's ashram at Sirsa concluded on Sunday. Given Ram Rahim's colourful yet secretive life as a cult leader, it was expected that a lot of secrets could tumble out of the Dera headquarters, particularly his residence — babaji ki gufa.

On 8 September, Haryana Police, several columns of paramilitary forces and civil administration personnel began the mammoth operation, on the direction of Punjab and Haryana High Court. Notably, the entire sanitisation process was videographed under the charge of Court Commissioner AKS Pawar.

The scale of the operation can be gauged by the fact that Quick Reaction Team vehicles, heavy earth moving machines, bomb disposal squad, anti-sabotage team vehicles, dog squads, tractor trollies and fire tenders had to be pressed into service. The headquarters, spread across 800 acres, was divided into ten zones, with each zone under the control of a senior officer.

 Inside Ram Rahims modern day Xanadu: Operations at Dera HQ unearth skeletons, hidden tunnels and chiefs secret life

File image of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Wikimedia Commons

Day One

On 8 September, the first day of the search operation, the authorities found computer hard disk drives, an unregistered Lexus car worth one crore, an OB van, Rs 7,000 of demonetised currency, Rs 12,000 cash and some pharma medicines without labels or a brand name, a walkie-talkie set were seized.

Inside the gufa, the search team rescued five boys, two of whom were minor. "The minor boys hail from Kaithal (in Haryana) and Uttar Pradesh. Both have been handed over to the District Child Protection Officer," Satish Mehra, Deputy Director (Media) said.

When asked what they were doing inside the campus, he said the District Child Protection officer will quiz them about this. "Regarding other three we are asking them about their whereabouts and will later send them home," Mehra said.

The search operation revealed interesting details about the sect's monetary transactions. The Haryana-based sect was found to have had its own plastic currency for day-to-day transactions in the nearby markets of Sirsa.

According to India Today, Ram Rahim's adopted daughter Honeypreet Singh's ran a readymade garments factory inside the premises, which was sealed during the search operations.

Day Two

On the second day of the "sanitisation" process, even more sensational revelations rocked the media. Two secret tunnels were found inside the Dera campus that was found to be linking Ram Rahim's residence to a women's hostel. Another tunnel, made of fibre but filed with mud, opened some five kilometre away from the premises, which NDTV reported could be a possible escape route.

The woman, who had dared to complain against the jailed self-styled godman, had alleged that she had been sexually exploited after being called there. She had said that prior to her exploitation, she would see some of the girls coming out of the 'gufa' weeping. Girls were deployed as security persons at the entrance of a 'gufa', the victim had said.

According to the NDTV report, the search operation revealed the extravagant side of the controversial sect leader. The report added that hundreds of pairs of shoes, designer clothes and colourful caps were found at the private residence of Ram Rahim.

According to India Today, several skeletons were dug up from the Dera headquarters on Friday, which pointed to either the killing of dissenters or the sect's policy to bury the dead within the premises to avoid the pollution of water bodies like Ganga.

However, further investigation revealed that no proper record of dead bodies was being sent from the hospital running inside the Dera headquarters, while a skin bank was running without a license.

An illegal fire cracker factory was also found inside the Dera premises, which was sealed by the authorities. Some chemical material to be used in making fire crackers was found. An empty box for cartridges of AK 47 was also recovered.

A pregnancy termination kit was also found during the search operation, in violation of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, Financial Express reported.

Ram Rahim's "Xanadu" included a township of its own, with schools, a sports village, a hospital, a shopping mall and a cinema hall. The property is also home to an ostentatious '7-star MSG resort' with replicas of Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, Kremlin and Disney World inside.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Sep 11, 2017 13:30:43 IST