I heard this extraordinary story when the BBC interviewed one hero, an Indian officer.
The events began a few years ago when the father of an Indian girl accused Saint Gurmeet Ram (Indian spiritual leader, singer, actor, director and philanthropist and head of the socio-spiritual organization, called Dera Sacha Sauda) of raping his daughter while he was treating her.
The Indian officer, who was charged with investigating the case, said he did not believe the girl’s story and considered it a kind of defamation of Saint Gurmeet Ram who boasts of 50 million followers, is dignified, and he can get what he wants, and would not sexually assault a sick girl!
The officer says the accusation by the girl, if true, will be a turning point in his life, but condemning that strong and dangerous character with such a crime will be horrendous. He has millions of followers who listen to his lectures, including the Prime Minister of India personally.
The author of a religious message is sacred, and his followers believe he is sent from heaven. How can a poor and helpless person like that girl and another can file serious charges against him?
After the first girl was subjected to intensive interrogation, he knew the exact details of the incident and where it took place. He then obtained permission to summon the saint to the police station, but he refused to appear before him because he believed he was above the law.
After patiently waiting, the officer succeeded in breaking into the fortified fortress of his Ashram. The officer found that the girl’s description of the secret room in which she was raped was accurate. The saint had to be formally charged, and that was what eventually happened.
After a long investigation, the indictment against the saint was issued. The unrest in various Indian cities had spread to every nook and corner, and at least 38 people were killed.
The saint was tried several times and in anticipation of any emergency before the final verdict was issued, martial law was declared in the state and the various means of transport were ordered off the road, fearing the transfer of his supporters to the court arena. Utmost precautions were taken with orders to fire on his (unruly) followers.
This disrupted all government offices and schools in the city. When the beloved saint, who is fond of jewelry, luxury leather clothes, and cinema, was convicted, he appeared as a superhero ready to confront forces coming from outer space.
His supporters set fire to government buildings, destroyed railway stations and public buses, looted shops and attacked police stations and TV stations, and the losses exceeded in hundreds of millions.
The details are not important, they are many, but the saint ended behind the bars, the aura around him evaporated, and his legendary empire collapsed after showing his inability to do something to save himself.
What drew me to the BBC interview with the officer who handled the case, who had waited for four years before his heart was pleased with the verdict to see the guru behind bars, said in the interview that he was surprised by the man who was in prison.
He discovered how a trivial person in front of him who did not know how to defend himself and had little understanding, and half-educated but charismatic had managed to reach out to 50 million followers and influence their minds and win their hearts.
The officer’s words about the saint reminded me of some of the clerics who have effect on us whose questions are displeasing, but we are merely listening to them.
These, though smaller, follow the same ways of delirium by following their shabby robes, their golden hands, their majestic shapes, their various headscarves, their sophisticated manner of speaking, their converted religious sentences, and what they have made for themselves, or their followers have made of them.
Criticism, to remain their image that a source of influence and money, and often for the benefit of the prospects who walk in their orbit. Look around you, and you will know who I mean.
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf