Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim sentenced to life imprisonment in 2002 journalist murder case
Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the main accused, Kuldeep Singh, Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal were convicted by the special Central Bureau of Investigation court last Friday for the murder of Ramchandra Chhatrapati in 2002.Updated: Jan 17, 2019 19:27 IST
A special CBI court in Panchkula on Thursday sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim and three others to life imprisonment for the murder of journalist Ramchandra Chhatarpati more than 16 years ago in Haryana.
The sentencing was delivered via video conferencing. The court has also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on each, reports news agency ANI.
The 51-year-old Dera head is already serving a 20-year prison term in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail for raping two of his women followers.
Chhatarpati’s son told ANI, “This is the triumph of truth, I feel relieved today. The prosecution had demanded capital punishment but we are satisfied with the punishment.”
Security had been stepped up in parts of Haryana and Punjab ahead of the sentencing. Strict vigil was being kept near the court complex in Sector 1 of Panchkula, adjoining Chandigarh.
Security measures were also ensured in Haryana’s Sirsa town, where the sect’s headquarter is located. Most shops remained shut around the headquarters of Dera Sacha Sauda
Ram Rahim, the main accused, Kuldeep Singh, Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal were convicted by the special Central Bureau of Investigation court last Friday for the murder of Ramchandra Chhatrapati in 2002. Ram Rahim appeared through video conferencing for the hearing.
The Haryana government had filed a plea on Tuesday seeking that the Dera chief should be allowed to appear through video conferencing during the pronouncement of the quantum of the sentence as his movement could lead to law and order situation. The court accepted the petition on Wednesday.
Violence had erupted in Panchkula and Sirsa in Haryana in August 2017 following the conviction of Dera sect head in the rape cases, leaving more than 40 people dead and scores injured.
Chhatrapati was shot at a point-blank range at his Sirsa home on October 24, 2002, months after his newspaper ‘Poora Sach’ published an anonymous letter alleging women sadhvis or followers were sexually harassed and raped by Ram Rahim in the Dera headquarters in Sirsa. Three weeks later, Chhatrapati succumbed to his injuries.
Chhatrapati’s family had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2003, seeking a transfer of the case to the CBI. The probe in the case was later handed over to the CBI, which filed a charge sheet in July 2007.
The agency said in its chargesheet in the case that Dera manager Krishan Lal had given his licenced revolver and a walkie-talkie to the two shooters, Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal Singh, in the presence of Ram Rahim.
First Published: Jan 17, 2019 08:40 IST