The son of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati, who exposed the rapes of two women at Dera Sacha Saudha headquarters in Sirsa 15 years ago, has been fighting a lonely battle to get justice for his father.
Months after exposing Dera chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Ram Chander was shot on October 21 right outside his home. He died on November 21.
Anshul Chhatrapati recalled, “My father, Ram Chander, was an advocate before he became a journalist. He has worked with a number of media organisations. He was not satisfied with the kind of journalism in those organisations because of the filtration by editors so he opened his own publication titled ‘Poora Sachh’. He had exposed the alleged rape of ‘sadhvis’ (female followers) at the Dera 15 years ago with a concerned letter which was addressed to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”
“My father was targeted and threatened several times after the letter was published. High Court had then ordered a CBI investigation taking the suo motto of the letter. Then on Oct 24, 2002, my father was attacked; he was shot five times by two people. I was 21 then, and did not know where to go for justice after the police did not include the name of the Dera chief in the FIR,” he added.
Further, speaking on the horrifying incident the day he lost his father, Anshul stated, “My father fought for life in the hospital for 28 days after they pumped bullets into his body, and he had named the Dera chief as the accused in his statement to the local police. But, the cops did not include the Dera chief’s name in the FIR, and our legal battle began from there. The concerned revolver was licensed in the name of Dera Sacha Sauda,” he said.
“The police did not take written statements by my father even when he was in a position to provide his claims. The right minded people and media protested a lot in Sirsa after that. The statement recorded by police was amended; they had deleted the name of Dera chief in that statement. We filed a petition for CBI enquiry into the death case of my father,” he continued.
Anshul also slammed the Dera chief for provoking his followers, saying, “The investigation was ordered in 2014 which was challenged by Dera Sacha Suada. The CBI was pressured to release Dera chief. They tried to approach us initially so that we drop the matter. The Dera chief and his supporters constantly provoked the followers yesterday. He is a criminal in guise of a saint. He should be given life imprisonment,” he added.
Anshul’s legal battle has now reached final arguments in the same CBI court at Panchkula that found the Dera chief guilty on August 25.
In Jan 2003, the key witness, Anshul, petitioned the High Court for a CBI probe.
In Nov 2003, the High Court ordered a CBI probe.
In July 2007, the CBI filed a chargesheet against the Dera chief.
In November 2014, the evidence presentation concluded.