There is no dearth in the number of followers of the self-styled spiritual guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh even after the Dera chief was sentenced to 20 years in prison for rape of two sadhvis. Dera Sacha Sauda continues to enjoy huge following across the states.
States like Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab remain the main centres of the Dera, however, the sect is also in the process of expanding and is slowly making inroads to states like Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Odisha. As per political experts, one of the main reasons that the sect enjoys huge stronghold is because of Dalits and other economically backward sections.
Professor Ashutosh Kumar, a political scientist at Panjab University, said, “These sects offer dignity to their disciples by seeking to eradicate caste inequality. Acts like providing food, ration and money to the poor also help them win the allegiance of the disadvantaged”.
Not only man but the Dera also has many women followers due to its strong stand against drug abuse and liquor. Drugs is a major issue which leads to domestic violence and Dera’s clear stand against it has helped the sect to draw women followers.
Ronki Ram, a professor in the political science department of Panjab University says that the Dera enjoys huge following as it welcomes people regardless their religion or caste. People are not look down upon due to their caste or economic status. Every follower has to drop its surname and adopt the title insaan.
Apart from it, the “mystical” feature, has gained many followers. “The Dera used technology and literature to project its gurus as superhumans endowed with divine powers,” added Professor Kumar.
(Source: Hindustan Times)