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More than 30 people were killed and hundreds others injured in the worst of violence that followed the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a 2002 rape case. Almost all the International press covered Singh’s conviction and highlighted how much power and influence self-styled godmen wields in India.
Here are some excerpts from the reports and selection of headlines.
1. The Washington Post
The Washington Post has written a detailed report on Singh’s conviction and the violence that broke out in various parts of India after the court found him guilty. “In times of trial a child’s place is near the father, they believe. So they went, thousands of obedient sons and daughters marching the roads of India together,” the report written by Kyle Swenson says in its lede. The report also traces Guru’s background and stated, “the sect’s leader is a cultural heavy-hitter among India’s holy men.”
2. New York Times
New York Times in its report described Singh who “enjoys political patronage from several local politicians.” The report stated, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Haryana Chief Minister Khattar have offered support for the guru. It has also mentioned Modi’s 2014 tweet for praising his group’s efforts in Swachh Bharat Campaign.
3. BBC
“The gurus count politicians, film and cricket stars, bureaucrats and ordinary people among their devotees. They run schools and hospitals. They peddle influence as superstitious politicians run to them for advice and votes of their devotees. Proximity to a guru legitimises a politician and adds to his power. Gurus like Singh virtually run parallel states, providing services to followers,” stated the report by BBC’s India correspondent, Soutik Biswas.
4. The Guardian
The Guardian describes Ram Singh, as one of the most powerful men in India, who owns a hotel, cinema, cricket stadium and schools besides having 1000 acre land in Haryana. “Gurus are enlightening influences in the lives of many Indians, guiding decisions both sacred and mundane, but few have the following of Singh or his political clout,” writes Micheal Safi, The Guardian Correspondent from India.
5. Australia’s ABC
Australian Broadcaster ABC website put out several pictures about the violence that spread after Singh’s verdict was announced. ““Some Indian holy men can summon thousands of supporters on to the streets. Their systems of patronage and sermons are hugely popular with people who think the government has failed them,” it said.
6. Dawn
Pakistan’s largest newspaper Dawn carried AFP report. “Religious sects like the Dera Sacha Sauda have huge followings in India. It's not unusual for leaders of these sects to often have small, heavily armed private militias protecting them,” the AFP report said.
Author: Aaqib Javeed
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