Updated: October 8, 2021 11:50:07 pm
A special CBI court in Panchkula Friday convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim for the murder of former Dera manager Ranjit Singh in 2002. Apart from the Dera head, four others — Krishan Lal, Jasbir Singh, Avtar Singh and Sabdil Singh — were convicted by the court in the 19-year old case. One more accused in the murder case had passed away a year ago. The quantum of sentence will be pronounced on October 12.
According to the CBI chargesheet, the Dera chief believed that Ranjit Singh was behind the circulation of an anonymous letter that alleged sexual exploitation of women inside the Dera headquarters, and therefore hatched a conspiracy to kill him.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim is currently in jail after his conviction in 2017 for raping two disciples.
As court declared the accused guilty on Friday, Jasbir Singh, Sabdil Singh and Avtar Singh, were present physically, whereas Gurmeet Ram Rahim (presently lodged in Sunaria jail, Rohtak) and Krishan Lal (presently in Ambala jail), were represented through their lawyers. After the verdict, Jasbir, Sabdil and Avtar Singh were ordered to be taken into custody and sent to Ambala Jail.
For pronouncement of the quantum of sentence, the court has ordered Dera head’s appearance through video link, while the other four will be present physically.
The verdict was delivered Friday days after the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed a plea by Jagseer Singh, son of Ranjit Singh, seeking transfer of the case to any other CBI court in Punjab or Chandigarh.
Jagseer had expressed apprehensions over the trail not being fair alleging meddling by a public prosecutor not related to the case. The HC, however, dismissed Jagseer’s plea and allowed the CBI court to deliver the verdict.
Finally on Friday, Gurmeet Ram Rahim, Avtar Singh, Jasbir Singh Sabdil Singh and Krishan Lal were held guilty and convicted for the offence punishable under Section 120 (b) of the IPC read with Section 302 of IPC and Section 506 (criminal intimidation) read with Section 120 (b).
Further, the CBI court held Sabdil Singh guilty for the commission of offence under Section 27 of Arms Act, while accused Jasbir Singh was acquitted of the charges framed under Section 25/27 of the same Act. Proceedings against the sixth accused in the case, Inder Sain, had been abated by the CBI court on November 5 last year.
After the verdict, defence counsel Advocate N P S Waraich said, “We are waiting for the quantum of sentence and will avail further legal remedy.”
DGP told to provide security to CBI lawyers
A request was moved on Friday by H P S Verma, Special Public Prosecutor, CBI, for providing adequate security to him as well as to Kanwar Pal Singh, regular Senior Public Prosecutor, CBI, on the ground that the present case is very sensitive case and the matter is now fixed for October 12.
The CBI court of Dr Sushil Kumar Garg said, “Keeping in view the present scenario and the situation which may emerge consequent upon order of the court in the present case, DGP, Haryana, may consider in right earnest feasibility and requirement to provide adequate security arrangements for Special Public Prosecutor H P S Verma and regular Senior Public Prosecutor, K P Singh, in the present case as per rules.”
Ranjit Singh, one of the managers at the Dera in Sirsa (Haryana) was murdered on July 10, 2002 in the jurisdiction of police station Thanesar, Kurukshetra in Haryana.
An FIR on charges of murder and criminal conspiracy was registered at police station Thanesar. On November 10, 2003, the HC ordered CBI investigation in the case.
According to the CBI chargesheet, Dera chief suspected Ranjit Singh of circulating an anonymous letter among the Dera followers. The contents of the letter accused Dera chief of sexually exploiting women followers (sadhvis) inside the Dera. This was the same letter, which Sirsa-based journalist, Ram Chander Chhatrapati, highlighted in his news report.
Chhatrapati was subsequently killed.
The Dera chief was recently convicted on murder charges in Chhatrapati case. Since, the Dera head suspected Ranjit Singh to be behind that letter, he also allegedly hatched a conspiracy to eliminate him.
CBI submitted before the court that Khatta Singh (driver of Dera Chief) had earlier resiled from his statement and deposed against CBI under fear and pressure of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, but later he deposed complete facts and took name of all the accused, including Ram Rahim.
As per CBI sources, Khatta Singh who became a Dera follower in 1970, was close to Dera chief and was made the driver of the bus in which he used to travel. Khatta Singh knew the victim for eight to nine years as he was a member of the 10-member committee of the Dera.
As per CBI, Khatta Singh was the eyewitness of the incidents regarding the hatching of the conspiracy by the accused. Earlier, his statement in the Ram Chander Chhatrapati murder case had led to the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim on January 11, 2019.