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Since godmen reap caste bias

A lackadaisical junior engineer voluntarily resigns from the irrigation and the public health department of Haryana after 18 years of service in 2000. Much before than that he starts calling himself a self styled incarnation of the 15th century mystic Kabir and even sets up his own ashram in Haryana’s Rohtak district’s Karontha village. Later he begins opening ashrams all across Haryana and gradually his number of followers increase on hearing about his Kabir connection.

In 2006, Rampal allegedly makes derogatory remarks against Arya Samaj founder, Dayanand Saraswati. His supporters clash with Arya Samajis and it leads to the death of one person. He is arrested along with 24 others but is left on bail. With mounting legal woes, he shifts base to Hisar. The 63-year-old man suddenly witnesses such a power rush that he stops refusing to court summons on charges related to contempt of court, murder and attempt to murder and misses hearings a record 42 times.

Violence breaks out in Hisar between his followers and the Haryana administration when the Punjab and Haryana high court issues summons to the state government to produce Rampal in court till Friday. The violence leaves six dead and one injured. The dead include a one year old infant too.

Who should be put to blame for what is being witnessed in Hisar? The state government or Rampal and his followers or a highly ineffective judicial system which has let godmen thrive in India from the times of Chadraswami and has failed to rein these fraudsters who have always liked to maintain a private army of arms brandishing men with the sole of idea of supporting their religious master, someone who promises them complete immunity and openly advocates impunity no matter how serious the crime being committed is. The lacunae are deeper, but remain oblivious for the society to see.

How is it that people like Rampal or a certain Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim of the Dera Saccha Sauda, a self styled religious sect based out of Sirsa manage to keep large armies? The answer lies in the deeply convoluted caste systems that the states of Haryana and Punjab have. While the general perception about both the states is that of people living life king size, the ground realities are as grim as they might be in other parts of the country where castless millions still are finding an answer to their existence. In the case of both the above mentioned self proclaimed religious apostles, these people come more than handy.

They can be won over with a simple promise of a shelter, regular morsels and most of all a reason for their existence. Who do you expect to act in circumstances like these? The state administration, without doubt. But who are their masters? Political parties, who themselves have been dubiously involving in segregating the society on lines of caste- upper caste for top echelons and lower caste people as sundries.

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