Gurmeet Ram Rahim seeks parole, Haryana minister says "Why not?"
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who is serving 20 year sentence for rape and murder, has sought 42-day parole for "farming his fields" in Haryana's Sirsa. Shockingly, the plea has garnered support from the jail superintendent of Rohtak district, who said Ram Rahim is not a "hardcore" criminal and praised his "good conduct" in jail. A Haryana minister also supported the idea. Here's what happened.
In August 2017, a special court in Panchkula sentenced Ram Rahim, the head of Haryana based Dera Sacha Sauda, to 20 years of imprisonment for raping two minors. After the verdict, his supporters went berserk and normal life was thrown out of gear. They clashed with police, damaged government property, and some 30 people died in the violence.
Considering how Ram Rahim abused his follower base two years ago, there is fear that giving him parole might cost the administration dearly. The same emotion was reflected in the order of Punjab and Haryana High Court in May. When his daughter moved the court seeking Ram Rahim's parole, the court denied the plea saying it would affect law and order.
Before passing the order, Justice Kuldeep Singh considered the serious allegations against Ram Rahim. Singh said his release would create a law and order problem and the state would face difficulties re-arresting him. Hence, there is "no ground to grant him parole," Singh underlined.
Ignoring the warnings of the court, the Haryana government seems bent to release Ram Rahim by painting a good picture of him. While seeking a report from Haryana's Sirsa district administration on whether to release the Dera chief or not, the jail superintendent of Rohtak district said he didn't violate any rules in prison. He also added Ram Rahim wasn't a "history-sheeter".
Supporting the parole request, Haryana minister KL Panwar said, "Everyone is equal before the law and he has all the rights to request for parole. He submitted his request and we forwarded it to the commissioner of police, DM (Sirsa) and SP (Sirsa)."
Interestingly, Ram Rahim's followers helped present Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar win polls last time. Quite naturally, the timing of his parole request, when Haryana goes to assembly polls in four months, raised eyebrows. However, Panwar said both of them shouldn't be linked. "If we had such an intention we would have released him before Lok Sabha elections," he said.