He called himself a messenger of God. As one of India's most powerful gurus, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh claimed to have 60 million devotees. Politicians lined up to secure his support. Disciples showered him with money in exchange for his blessing.

But the spiritual leader was far from holy. In August 2017, he was convicted of sexually assaulting two female followers, blowing the lid on a seedy underworld of rape and accusations of murder and mass castration within the walls of his ashram.

Singh's downfall all began when one of his female followers sent a letter to India's prime minister, alleging that the guru had been raping her and other women for years.

READ MORE: Gurus Gone Bad in India

The letter set off an explosive series of events that would result in the deaths of dozens.

101 East meets the son of a journalist shot dead after publishing the letter in a local newspaper. Singh has been charged with the journalist's murder, and prosecutors say the two suspected gunmen were Singh's disciples.

Even some of the guru's most devout followers are now blowing the whistle on the man they once considered a god.

Hans Raj Chauhan was a committed devotee for 13 years, beginning when his parents sent him to Singh's ashram as a teenager.

But he says that all changed after the guru gave orders for him to be castrated, along with hundreds of other men and boys.

"He said, 'It's just a small operation. You won't feel any pain or discomfort.' Nobody knew what castration was," says Chauhan, who is now helping investigators prosecute his former guru.

101 East investigates the spectacular fall of India's most powerful swamis.

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Source: Al Jazeera