Godman: Threat to Indian Society

GODMAN: THREAT TO INDIAN SOCIETY

Author: Ms. Jyoti Jha, JEMTEC, School of Law

India is a democratic country with freedom of religion i.e. secularism. A contemporary India which looks like a modern country with all scientific establishments but also believe in superstitions like faith in godmen.  Godmen are the charismatic gurus. It would not be wrong in saying that ‘godmen are holy men with unholy acts.’

There is an increase in the number of godmen day by day and also hold places in a government office and corporate board meetings, educational institutions, and all other important places. They are not spiritual men but ambitious con artists who purvey deception, falsehood, and religiosity in the name of god.

People of our society had tremendous faith and belief in these godmen. They treat them equally as gods and submit themselves to godmen without any condition. Public obey their dictates like an obedient child. This is the reason that such people get an opportunity to commit heinous crimes like rape, murder, etc. In the last 10-15 years, there are many people who get convicted by courts.

Now it’s not about the incarnation of God and serving mankind. There are self-proclaimed godmen who live a lavish life and commit illegal acts, money frauds as their business in the name of god. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Swami Premananda, Asaram Bapu are some of the examples.

There is a need to enact special legislation regarding these godmen so as to regulate their conduct. We know that evil and superstitious activities have become a flourishing industry in the state and to deal with questions of blind faith from regulating funding to legal action against Godmen, there is a dire need for comprehensive legislation.

There are certain legislations already prevailing for preventing the superstitious activities like Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013.

CONTROVERSIAL GODMEN OF INDIA

  1. GURMEET RAM RAHIM SINGH

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan (born 15 August 1967) is the head of the Indian social group Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS) since 1990 and a convicted rapist and murderer of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati.

In 2002, a sadhvi wrote a letter to the  Chief Ministers of the states of Punjab and Haryana, and to the Union Home MinisterCBINHRC and the Punjab and Haryana High Court, describing an incident involving Ram Rahim. This letter was published in Ram Chander Chhatrapati’s four-page Hindi eveninger, Poora Sach in 2002. Ram Rahim was charged for the rape of the women in dera as well as the murder of that journalist who published about that letter. Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim held guilty by CBI court. Punjab and Haryana high court has ordered that the security forces need not hesitate from using mighty force to maintain law and order. As the Ram Rahim’s news hit the public, people lost their minds and started riots in Punjab and Haryana. The riots resulted in the death of 30 people and left more than 250 people injured. All the events taking place were horrifying. Two train stations were burnt in Punjab and two empty train coaches of Rewa Express were set on fire in   Anand Vihar station of Delhi.

  • ASHARAM BAPU

A 16-year-old girl had accused self-styled godman Asaram Bapu of raping her on the intervening night of August 15 and 16, 2013 at an ashram in Jodhpur. Asaram has been lodged in Jodhpur Central Jail since 2013. A trial court in Jodhpur on Wednesday held Asaram Bapu guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl in August 2013. They are charged under relevant sections of the POCSO Act, Juvenile Justice Act, and the Indian Penal Code. He was sentenced to life imprisonment by the court.

  • SWAMI AMRIT CHAITANYA    

Interpol had issued a lookout an order against Swami Amrit Chaitanya for allegedly swindling 45 lakh rupees from Keralite woman in a Gulf. He was taken into custody based on a complaint by Serafin Edwin, a Keralite woman who alleged that swami had cheated her of Rs 45 lakhs. He was arrested in 2008 on charges of rape of minor girls as well as cheating an NRI woman and later was convicted by a Kerala High Court of embezzling money from his followers as well as the rape of four minors.

  • SWAMI PERMANAND

In 1994, one of the girls living in the ashram, Arul Jyothi, escaped and reported that she had been raped and was pregnant. The All India Democratic Women’s Association provided moral support and legal aid to the victims On 15 November 1994, the police started an investigation.[3] Two ashram residents also reported that another, called Ravi, had been murdered for attempting to expose the happenings at the ashram. On 20 August 1997, Premananda was sentenced to life imprisonment and fined 67.3 lakhs for 13 counts of rape, molestations of two girls and murder. Failure to pay the fine was to carry an additional term of 32 years and 9 months. He was also convicted of cheating the residents of his ashram, which carried another one-year sentence. Six others were also found guilty of conspiracy to commit rapes and destroying evidence. Five were given life sentences.

NEED OF A LAW

There is a need to draft a law that clearly defines faith and blind faith. It is necessary to enact a law to protect the poor, uneducated and ignorant people from the exploitation of the godmen so as to provide a healthy and safe social environment. People trust the godmen of which they take an unfair advantage by using them physically, mentally as well as financially. There is a feeling of immense trust and respect from the public towards godmen due to which they follow them blindly in return.   

The situation has reached an alarming stage where almost every godmen is either accused of charges or convicted for serious offences. It has become necessary for the government to take appropriate, urgent, stringent, legal action against such people to curtail the evil effects and harmful practices of such godmen in our society. A proper law against such offences will give teeth to the organizations that are working against such menace.

It should be considered that the mere enactment of laws will not be sufficient to be free from such criminals because they get power from their bhakts who trust them and support them. We saw in the case of Ram Rahim, his followers created mass destruction and protested against the legal action taken. Therefore, in order to be free from them, it is important to create awareness among the public and show their real faces who carry on their illegal acts in the name of god. People should make aware about the difference between faith and blind faith. In last few years many babas & swamis are convicted by courts which helped a bit to spread awareness among people and show the reality behind such godmen.     

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