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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Dera chief had hatched conspiracy to kill journalist, says CBI report

Agency concluded probe in 2007, next court hearing on Sept 16

Written by SUKHBIR SIWACH | Chandigarh | Published: September 3, 2017 4:11:50 am
Ram Chander Chhatarpati

The investigation conducted by the CBI in 2007 had claimed that Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh along with his associates had hatched criminal conspiracy in 2002 to kill Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chhatarpati. The probe report, accessed by The Sunday Express, says a dera manager, Krishan Lal, had given his licensed revolver and walki-talkie of the dera to two persons, Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal Singh, in the presence of the dera chief and thereafter “both the accused shot at Chhatarpati on October 24, 2002, at his residence at about 7:30 pm”, resulting in his death days later on account of gun shot injuries.

The CBI court in Panchkula will now hear the matter on September 16 as a CBI court in Ambala had already framed charges against the dera chief and others. Chhatarpati was writing against the dera chief in his newspaper ‘Poora Sach’. He also published an article about the anonymous complaint of a Sadhvi (female follower) regarding sexual exploitation of Sadhvis by Gurmeet Ram Rahim in the dera.

Apprehending threat to his life from the dera men, Chhatarpati had sent a letter to the Sirsa SP on July 2, 2002, requesting security. Chhattarpati’s son Anshul Chhatarpati says no security was provided to his father even after a written request. About 15 days before Chhatarpati was shot, Krishan Lal had visited the office of Chhatarpati and had “threatened him not to write against the dera, otherwise the day Baba Gurmeet Singh passed orders, he would be killed that very day”.

A day before killing of Chhatarpati, the Baba had come to the dera from Jalandhar. At his “gufa” in the dera, the CBI says, his associates showed him the newspaper ‘Poora Sach’ of that day which contained an article by Chhatarpati and on reading it, the baba had become furious and ordered Lal, Kuldeep and Nirmal to eliminate him.

Nirmal Singh had escaped after shooting at Chhatarpati, but was arrested two days later. The Haryana police had recovered walkie-talkie set of the dera from Nirmal which was issued to Krishan Lal on the day of murder. “It establishes the involvement of the dera chief in the murder,” the CBI said in its report.

K B Pandit, president of Haryana Patarkar Sangh, told The Indian Express on Saturday that he had gone to meet Chhatarpati at PGI, Rohtak, just a few days after the attack on him. “Chhatarpati told me that he wanted to give a statement before the magistrate, but the police were not getting it done,” said Pandit, who had led the journalists’ protests after the attack on Chhatarpati.

During the CBI investigation, Anshul Chhatarpati told the agency that his father had stated before a Sub Inspector of Haryana Police, Ram Chander, on October 26, 2002, in PGI Rohtak that the dera chief in conspiracy with Krishan Lal got him attacked. However, the sub-inspector did not mention the name of Baba Gurmeet Singh in the statement of his father. Hence, the Sub Inspector was subjected to polygraph test at CFSL, New Delhi, in 2005. “The test revealed deception in his statement. Subsequently, he was again subjected to the test on May 16/17, 2007, and deception was again noticed in his statement. This clearly makes out Anshul Chhatarpati is telling the truth,” the CBI says in its report.

The polygraph/lie detection test of the accused including Krishan Lal “showed deceptions in their statements”, the CBI report says.

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