Not a Clean Sweep

Dera Sacha Sauda chief and fol­low­ers sweep Jaipur clean and earn a traf­fic vi­o­la­tion for their pains

India Today - - NATION - By Ro­hit Par­i­har

He swished into Jaipur in a heav­ily guarded cav­al­cade to clean up its mess. He shamed its mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tion. And ended up with a traf­fic ticket in the bar­gain.

Gur­mit Ram Rahim Singh, chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, the Sirsa-based spir­i­tual or­gan­i­sa­tion, ar­rived in the city with 26,000 fol­low­ers on Novem­ber 2 as part of the Clean­li­ness Earth Cam­paign he launched in Delhi in Septem­ber. His team fanned out to dif­fer­ent parts of the city’s 77 wards. A 32-mem­ber cen­tral com­mit­tee co­or­di­nated the ef­fort as Singh’s fol­low­ers, a seven-mem­ber team for each ward, went about sweep­ing streets, clean­ing drains and col­lect­ing garbage. They fi­nally dumped all the filth in ve­hi­cles that the Jaipur Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion ( JMC) had pro­vided. In just 10 hours, Singh’s fol­low­ers ac­com­plished a feat which the JMC, with its 7,000-strong san­i­ta­tion staff, could never ac­com­plish.

Jaipur’s fall from grace on the clean­li­ness in­dex has been sharp, from among the 10 clean­est cities be­tween 2001 and 2007 to No. 229 among 423 cities in a May 2011 re­port of Union Min­istry of Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment.

Fights be­tween Jaipur Mayor Jy­oti Khan­del­wal—who is backed by the city MP Ma­hesh Joshi—with coun­sel­lors and cor­po­ra­tion of­fi­cials have brought the JMC’S func­tion­ing to a stand still. Ra­jasthan Chief Min­is­ter Ashok Gehlot sup­ports both of them.

Lo­cal me­dia and Jaipur res­i­dents lauded Singh’s ef­fort. But an irked ad­min­is­tra­tion pounced on the Sauda chief’s only slip-up—the cav­al­cade he ar­rived in com­prised six bul­let­proof black Lexus SUVS bear­ing the same reg­is­tra­tion num­ber. Traf­fic po­lice fined him Rs 500. “It was a ba­sic vi­o­la­tion,” a traf­fic po­lice of­fi­cer told IN­DIA TO­DAY. Singh re­gret­ted the of­fence, say­ing he was un­aware of the vi­o­la­tion.

Singh’s con­voy com­prises de­coy ve­hi­cles af­ter he was at­tacked sev­eral times in the wake of his pho­to­graph ap­pear­ing in May 2007 dressed like Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh. He and his or­gan­i­sa­tion also face CBI in­ves­ti­ga­tions into two mur­ders and a rape case.

PU­RUSHOT­TAM Di­wakar/www.in­di­a­to­day­im­ages.com

GUR­MIT RAM RAHIM SINGH IN JAIPUR

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