By Kiran Deep, Roving Editor, Chandigarh
It’s exemplary courage of the two-Anshul Chhatarpati and his father Ram Chander Chhatrapati- led to 20 years rigorous imprisonment sentence and 30 lakh fine to the Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in the two rape case by the CBI Special Court, Judge, Jagdeep Singh, today. Ram Chander Chhatrapati the Editor of Sirsa based evening newspaper “Pura Sach” had sacrificed his life for this cause. He was the first one who had exposed dera chief in May 2002 by publishing in his paper an anonymous letter of Sadhvi leveling serious allegations of rape against the dera chief. This is not all, he had also daringly published many reports highlighting the dera’s illegal activities.
After Ram Chander Chhatarpati’s, his son Anshul Chhatrapati is the one who has launched crusade against the dera chief’s unlawful activities. “It’s the day of celebration for me, my family members, all the activists. The rapist dera chief is finally put behind the bar”, elated after the verdict, Anshul told the Correspondent over phone from Sirsa.
“It is the victory of truth. I thanks to all who have helped us in this long struggle for the past 15 years. It is hard work of honest CBI officials and judges who led this case to the right conclusion. I also salute two dera followers (female devotees) who have registered the case of rape against dera chief. It is very courageous that they remain strict to their stand despite all odds” said Anshul, while saying that my father murder case and also Ranjit Singh murder is still pending in the CBI special court. After dera chief sentence in the rape case, now we are hopeful that we will get justice in two other cases of murder.
It all began in May 2002 when an anonymous letter of Sadhvi leveling serious allegations of sexual exploitation of sadhvis (female followers) was circulated in Sirsa. The letter was addressed to then Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, demanding inquiry against the Dera Sacha Sauda Chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, accusing him of rape of sadhvis in the Dera Sacha Sauda situated in Sirsa. This letter was published by Journalist Chhatrapati in his evening newspaper “Poora Sach” on May 30, 2002. There were serious natures of allegations in the anonymous letter of the sadhvi against the dera chief, which had led the high court to order CBI inquiry into the case on September 24, 2002.
Going into background of the case in its investigation the CBI has established that the dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had hatched a conspiracy at his ‘gufa’ along with his confidants to eliminate journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati. Chhatrapati was highlighting wrong doings of dera in his newspaper ‘Poora Sach’. and had also published an article about the anonymous complaint of a sadhvi carrying allegations of sexual exploitation against the dera chief.
The CBI probe further revealed that a day before he was shot at, he had written an article against the dera. As a result the dera chief and his associates were angry with Chhatrapati. The three accused in the case- Krishan Lal, Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal Singh- had showed the newspaper to the dera chief on October 23, 2002. After reading the paper, the dera chief ordered the three to eliminate Chhatrapati. Subsequently Krishan Lal handed over a walkie-talkie set and his own revolver to Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal Singh in the presence of the dera chief to kill Chhatrapati.
Kuldeep and Nirmal shot at Chhatrapati at his residence and later he succumbed to sever bullet
The dera chief was convicted in two rape cases two for 20 years in the case registered by the CBI in December 2002 on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The chargesheet was filed against the Dera chief after recording the statement of the victims by the CBI in 2007. The CBI further revealed that two ‘Sadhvis’ (female devotees) were raped between 1999 and 2001. The Special CBI court had framed charges against the dera chief under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC in September 2008. The statement of the two complainants were recorded before the court between 2009 and 2010. Later the Special CBI court shifted from Ambala to Panchkula and the case against Dera chief was also transferred to Panchkula CBI Court. In July 2017, the court ordered daily hearing and arguments of prosecution and defence were concluded on August 17, 2017.