Days after his conviction and sentencing in a rape case by a CBI court in Panchkula, Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, currently lodged in Rohtak jail, will appear before the same court through video-conferencing on Saturday in connection with the murder of a top office-bearer of his dera and that of a Sirsa-based journalist.
Security agencies are on alert in Haryana keeping in view the violence that took place during his previous appearance before the court on August 25. Ranjit Singh, who was a member of the Sirsa Dera’s influential 10-member committee, was shot dead by dera men on July 10, 2002, allegedly on the orders of Ram Rahim. It’s alleged that Ram Rahim suspected Ranjit Singh’s role in circulation of an anonymous letter in which a sadhvi had written about their sexual exploitation by the dera chief.
Sirsa journalist Ram Chander Chhatarpati’s murder case will also be heard on Saturday for final arguments. However, a final verdict may take some time in both murder cases, say sources. Ranjit Singh father’s Jogender Singh, who was sarpanch for about 30 years in his village in Kurukshetra district, fought a tough legal battle for justice to his son, but could not ensure the same his life time. He died on July 2, 2016, at the age of 80.
“A day before his death, I had met Jogender Singh. His only sorrow was that he could not ensure justice for his son. But now conviction of the dera chief under rape charges has generated hopes for us again,” said a close relative of Ranjit Singh. The Haryana police had arrested two persons, Jasbir Singh and Sabdil Singh, in connection with the murder the same year. Three senior functionaries of dera, including dera manager Krishan Lal, were arrested by the CBI later, after the agency was handed over the probe by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2004.
An anonymous letter by a sadhvi addressed to the then PM and alleging sexual exploitation of sadhvis by “Maharaj Gurmeet Singh” of the dera got into circulation in May 2002. According to the CBI’s investigation report, the dera management, on the directions of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, launched a massive hunt for the persons who had written and circulated the anonymous letter, which was eventually carried in his newspaper by journalist Ram Chander Chhatarpati.
During investigations, two activists of Tarksheel Society in Haryana, Raja Ram Handiya and Balwant Singh, reportedly told the CBI, “On the instructions of dera management, its followers beat us suspecting our role in the letter’s circulation.” Both reportedly told the investigators that the dera followers had asked them if they got the letter from Ranjit Singh.