Dhaka, Bangladesh
Cults a public nuisance

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Cults a public nuisance

The scenes were very much like those in his much hyped films. The spectacle put on by Dera Sacha Sauda leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and his followers brought large parts of Punjab and Haryana to a standstill. In the run up to the conviction of Ram Rahim Singh by a CBI court in a rape case, there was such a violent frenzy from his followers that a massive mobilisation by the state had to be undertaken, with trains, schools and telephony being disrupted. Despite appeals for calm, his supporters continued their rampage after the verdict was announced. But the larger question is how these cults are allowed to become a law unto themselves and how it is that they seem to feel a sense of entitlement that they are above the law. In an earlier case, when the police tried to enter the ashram of a spiritual leader in Punjab who had been long dead but stored in a deep freezer by his followers in the belief that he was in deep meditation, they found themselves facing heavily armed supporters who held them off. This sort of pile up of weapons is not uncommon in these ashrams, and they seem to stay under the radar of the authorities until it is too late. Often, the misdemeanors of these so-called godmen are kept under wraps thanks to the enormous political clout many of them have. In the case of Ram Rahim Singh, he issued calls to his lakhs of followers to support a particular political party in the last round of assembly elections in Punjab. ó The Hindustan Times

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