As in the Ranjit Singh murder case, Khatta Singh, a “driver” of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, also turned hostile in the Ram Chander Chhatrapati murder case, in which the dera chief is the prime suspect, on Saturday.
During a resumed hearing in the case in a CBI special court in Panchkula, where the dera head was present through video-conferencing, Khatta Singh said he did not know Chhatrapati and had never read his “Poora Sach” newspaper.
The CBI claims that Chhatrapati was murdered on October 23, 2002 for writing against the illegal activities in the dera.
During the hearing, the CBI counsel requested the court to declare Khatta Singh, a key CBI witness, hostile in the case. In an earlier statement recorded under section 164 of the CrPC, Khatta Singh had stated that Ram Rahim had ordered the killing of Chhatrapati in his presence. But he told the court on Saturday that the then CBI DIG, M Narayanan, and another CBI officer, Dr Armandeep Singh, had intimidated him to obtain his statement against the dera chief. He said he had never been a driver of Ram Rahim, but used to render services in ‘satsang’.
Khatta Singh refused to accept that a dera member, Ranjit Singh, had withdrawn his sister and daughters from the dera in April 2001 after Ram Rahim sexually exploited his sister. He also denied that in May 2002, an anonymous letter by a ‘sadhavi’ alleging sexual exploitation of women inmates of the dera was published in some newspapers and distributed among people.
Earlier, Khatta Singh had given a statement that Ram Rahim had ordered to eliminate Ranjit Singh for circulating the letter, in his presence, but he backtracked from it on February 11 in the CBI court. Ranjit Singh had been murdered on July 10, 2002.
Khatta Singh also refused to accept that one gate of the ‘gufa’ where Ram Rahim used to live led to the girls’ hostel and ‘sadhavis’ used to be on duty at this gate. He said it was not true that a ‘sadhavi’ who was deputed at the gate of the ‘gufa’ refused to enter it and fled to her house from the hostel where she was staying.
Khatta Singh’s cross-examination is still on.
The CBI claims that Khatta Singh had sold 24 acres of land owned by him in Sirsa to a dera follower, Amarjeet, on January 12 this year. The land, as per the registry, was sold for Rs 3.68 crore, but CBI sources say the actual payment could be much more.
‘Statement given under duress'
On January 1, 2009, Khatta Singh had complained to the CBI that he had received a threatening mail that his son Gurudas would be shot if he appeared against the dera chief. The CBI then wrote to the Haryana DGP that Khatta Singh had land in Sirsa and had to frequently go there.
It also sought an investigation into the mail. Khatta Singh, however, claimed on Saturday that CBI officers had threatened him to give a statement against Ram Rahim.
He also claimed that he had received threats from Punjab terrorists, who had even visited his house.