Honeypreet and Ram Rahim: A case of Stockholm syndrome?

After a forty-day chase, Dera Saccha Sauda’s chief Ram Rahim Singh Insaan’s close aide Honeypreet Insaan has finally yielded to the Haryana Police. The elusive Honeypreet, Ram Rahim’s “adopted daughter” is now under police custody and has been booked for sedition that sparked riots in Panchkula following the arrest of the godman. For the longest time, there was a shroud of mystery surrounding the identity and motivations of the godman’s sidekick. She was painted as a femme fatale, Ram Rahim’s power-hungry moll and a rabble-rouser who incited the dera followers to go on a violent spree. There are even sordid reports of her doubling as a pimp and helping her “papa” procure women. Some also hinted at her cinematic aspirations and her obsession with a Katrina Kaif-like body. Her personal website mostly comprises sycophantic accounts of her achievements as an editor, actress, director and a philanthropist; and does little to demystify the person behind the name.

Born Priyanka Taneja, Honeypreet was married to a man named Vishwas Gupta in 1999, oddly, at the behest of Baba Ram Rahim. And if accounts of former dera members and her ex husband are to go by, the two sadhvis were not the only victims of Ram Rahim’s lust. Honeypreet herself was allegedly raped and sexually exploited over the years by the godman whom she came to call her “papa.” But all this was a farce to disguise the illicit relationship they shared, the dera members alleged.

(Read: Why India loves its godmen)

After her alleged abuse, Honeypreet rose through the ranks at the dera, quickly endearing herself to Ram Rahim and consolidating quite a bit of power herself. She has also been quite vocal about her filial love for the dera chief on social networking platforms like Twitter. Today she is a force to be reckoned with and had it not been for her arrest, Honeypreet would have easily taken up the mantle of responsibility at the dera in the absence of Ram Rahim. That being said, if the allegations of rape are true, then Honeypreet indeed cuts a tragic figure.

But what explains her staunch support of  Ram Rahim, whom she claims is innocent, and her unwavering devotion towards him? The signs point towards a possible case of Stockholm syndrome or a term used to describe a positive bond developed between the abuser and the abused. Read about in detail in this article: Read about in detail in this article: What is Stockholm Syndrome in relationships and why you should worry about it

Psychologist Dr Parul Tank Consultant Psychologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund explains this in detail: “Victims of abuse usually tend to become more empathetic of their captors and start espousing the ideals and beliefs of the abusers. Such kind of behaviour is seen in hostages of terrorists who take up the ideologies of their tormentor.”

Could Honeypreet’s systematic abuse at the hands of Ram Rahim made her a victim of the dreaded Stockholm syndrome?  Dr Tank advises us to tread with caution before making such diagnosis. “It is hard to term it as Stockholm syndrome in her case because we don’t know much about the case. But there could be an angle there.”

Calling the Stockholm syndrome an “odd phenomenon” Dr Tank says that it is difficult to diagnose what is Honeypreet’s motivation to stay faithful to her alleged abuser Ram Rahim. “One wonders whether she was threatened into staying or she had something to gain from the relationship; we don’t know if there was a threat of sabotage. While she does exhibit some of the signs of Stockholm syndrome, there is no way to gauge whether she is actually a victim of the syndrome without speaking to her,” she says.

But if she is indeed under her abuser’s spell, Honeypreet’s arrest could prove to be a spellbreaker. Dr Tank says that is quite possible for victims of Stockholm syndrome to come out of the abuse once they are away from the tormentor. It is being speculated that the Haryana Police may pit Honeypreet against her former mentor and get her to spill the beans about the godman’s misdeeds.

She adds that being exposed to other beliefs, apart from her abuser’s own, can give the victim a chance to break free from the grip of the syndrome. “Since it is a kind of trauma, it will also require a lot of counselling and trauma therapy for the victim to feel normal again,” says Dr Tank.

Image source: Honeypreet Insaan’s personal website


Published: October 4, 2017 6:19 pm | Updated:October 4, 2017 6:47 pm

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