PANCHKULA: Special CBI court convicted today Dera Sacha Sauda chief and self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and three others for the murder of Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati on charges of murder and criminal conspiracy.
The judgment was pronounced by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court judge Jagdeep Singh. The quantum of sentence will be announced on January 17. The three others who have been convicted are carpenters Nirmal Singh, Kudeep Singh and dera manager Krishan Lal. "All the four accused have been convicted," said HPS Verma, lawyer for the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The 51-year old Ram Rahim attended the court hearing via video conferencing as he is lodged at the Sunaria jail at Rohtak in Haryana where he is serving a 20-year prison sentence for the rape of his two female disciples as he was convicted in that case in August 2017.
On Tuesday, the special CBI court had accepted the state government’s plea and allowed Ram Rahim through video-conferencing for the hearing. Whereas the other accused Krishan Lal, Kuldeep and Nirmal were present in court.
Chhatrapati was shot on October 24, 2002 by Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal Singh by the licensed .32 bore revolver of Krishan Lal. He had later succumbed to his injuries on November 21, 2002, at Apollo Hospital at New Delhi. Both Kuldeep and Nirmal came on a scooter. Nirmal had managed to flee on the scooter but the police nabbed Kuldeep from the spot.
The police had recovered a walkie-talkie belonging to Dera Sacha Sauda and Krishan Lal’s .32 bore revolver from his possession. A case of murder was then registered but in their charge sheet the state police did name Gurmeet Ram Rahim.
Anshul Chattarpati son of Chhatrapati was not satisfied with the police investigation so he moved to the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the court transferred the case to CBI on November 10, 2003.
In 2002, Chhatrapati had published an anonymous letter in his evening daily 'Poora Sach' which highlighted the plight of a female disciple who was allegedly harassed and sexually assaulted by the sect
chief. He had also accused the dera of exploiting female disciples along with other discrepancies in how the sect operated. Since then he started
Former driver of Ram Rahim, Khatta Singh, had told the court that it was the Dera chief who had ordered Chhatrapati’s killing in front of him.
The CBI charge sheet stated that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Krishan Lal, Nirmal Singh and Kuldeep Singh have committed offences punishable under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with Section 302 (murder) of Indian Penal Code.
Kuldeep and Nirmal also committed substantive offences under Section 302 of IPC (Murder). Nirmal also committed offences under Section 25/27 Arms Act.
"We have struggled for a long time against such an influential person. It was not a small task to expose him as the governments in the centre and state were sheltering him. But despite the hardships, we kept struggling.
He adopted each and every tactic to delay the investigation and trial of the case. Despite a lot of pressure, the witnesses recorded their statements with honesty and CBI did a proper investigation. The judge is like god to our family. All the four convicted should be given m maximum punishment,’’ said Anshul Chattarpati.
Meanwhile, security was very tight in Panchkula, Sirsa the headquarter of Dera and Rohtak as several companies of the state armed police, anti-riot police and commandos were deployed to deal with any law and order situation.
As violence had erupted in Panchkula and Sirsa in August 2017 following the conviction of the Dera chief leaving over forty persons dead and more than two hundred injured.