Chandigarh: The son of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati who exposed the rapes of two women at Dera headquarters in Sirsa 15 years ago has been fighting a lonely battle to get justice for his father.
Months after Chhatrapati published an anonymous letter giving details about how women were sexually harassed by Gurmeet Ram Rahim at Sirsa ashram, he was shot from point-blank range right outside his house on October 24, 2002.
“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,” ANI quoted Anshul Chhatrapati as saying.
“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,” reportedly.
Anshul said that the Dera chief’s name was not included in the FIR by the police. “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 the legal battle began from there. The concerned revolver was licensed in the name of Dera Sacha Sauda,” Anshul reportedly said.
The anonymous letter published by Chhatrapati in his newspaper was addressed to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and heads of several other institutions including the Chief Juctice of Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The three-page letter in Hindi explained in detail the ‘deeds’ of Gurmeet Ram Rahim. The letter, which appeared to have been written by a woman follower of Baba Ram Rahim, narrated how the Dera chief sexually exploited his women followers at the sprawling Sirsa ashram.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court took note of the letter and directed the then district and sessions judge in Sirsa to order a probe into the matter. The judge then recommended probe by a central agency following which the high court asked the CBI to look into the matter.
The Chandigarh unit of CBI registered a case on December 12, 2002, under Section 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (insult to the modesty of woman) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and launched an investigation.