Relief has been pouring into Uttarakhand ever since the floods ravaged the Himalayan state. Besides the armed forces and government, innumerable NGOs, charitable organisations and religious institutions have been working round the clock to help the affected and bring life back to normal. In the midst of all these, Dera Sacha Sauda, a religious non-profit organisation based in Haryana, has come forward with a novel initiative. It has pledged to help the widows of Deoli-Brahmgram, a small village where men never returned home after the floods struck.
The Dera chief, Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, recently announced that 1,500 followers of the sect would marry the women of this village which lost many of its men in the flash floods and landslides. They had reportedly gone to work in Kedarnath. Since then, the village has come to be known as the ‘village of widows’. “Our motive is to rehabilitate the widows soon. A campaign has been started to search grooms for them. Those women who do not wish to remarry will also be helped to rebuild their lives,” the Dera chief told the Times of India, an Indian daily.
The religious sect has already plunged into rehabilitation work in the state. Some 33 canters of relief material have been sent to the state. In addition a team of 200 volunteers including engineers, divers and 15 doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, are also being sent to Uttarakhand. “The volunteers will go door-to-door to distribute relief material to the needy people,” said the chief.
The Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS) was founded by Mastana Balochistani in 1948. He envisaged it as a centre for spiritual learning. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has been the organisation’s head since the 1990s. DSS has participated in a wide array of social uplift programmes. These include an annual free eye-care event, anti-prostitution initiatives including arranging marriages to DSS members for ex-sex workers; anti-drug initiatives; support for transgender sex; tribal emancipation and anti-female foeticide campaigns.
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