Journalist Ramchandra Chhatarpati’s son says former CM pressurised him for settlement and said no harm could ever come to Baba.
Sirsa: A special CBI court in Panchkula has convicted self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim and three others in the murder of a journalist. Ram Rahim, chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, was found guilty in the 2002 murder of scribe Ramchandra Chhatrapati.
Slain scribe Chhatrapati’s son Anshul said a former CM had asked a friend of his father to make compromise as no harm could ever come to Baba. A former Punjab minister had also advised to make compromise. But we continued the legal battle, Anshul said. While talking with Bhaskar through Bhaskar Plus App, Anshul shared how he continued the long legal battle against Ram Rahim. Excerpts:
1. Did Gurmeet Ram Rahim ever issue direct threat to you or your family?
Ram Rahim never directly threatened us. However, his accomplices constantly pressurised us for settlement.
2. Did any big leader, popular personality or a member of Ram Rahim’s family ever make efforts to negotiate a compromise?
Yes, once a former Punjab minister called one of our relatives and asked to make compromise. But he refused. The minister said Chhatrapati’s family has already lost too much. Tell them to make settlement so that they may not lose more, he told my relative. A former chief minister called my father’s friend, who was a sarpanch, and pressurised for settlement. He also didn’t bow to the pressure. The chief minister challenged him do whatever he wished saying no harm could ever come to Baba. The chief minister had died by the time Ram Rahim got 20 year jail term in Sadhvi rape case. The same sarpanch then came to our home and said had that CM been alive today, I would have asked him to see Ram Rahim’s condition with his own eyes.
3. What happened on the day of tragedy?
It was Karwa Chauth on October 24. Someone had passed away in my mother’s family and so she had gone to her parent’s home in Punjab. At about 8.15 pm we were preparing to have dinner. Someone called my father. He went outside and I also went behind him. One of the two youths standing outside opened fire. They then fled. My father was rushed to hospital and was referred to Rohtak PGI as his condition deteriorated.
4. What was the role of the CBI and police in the investigation?
The case was handed over to CBI in 2003. Ram Rahim was a very influential person. He used his connections with the Centre to influence the CBI probe. Ram Rahim did not appear before the CBI in New Delhi although the investigation agency served him three notices. Finally CBI officials came to Sirsa to interrogate Ram Rahim. Many conditions were imposed on CBI. But CBI bypassed all the conditions and completed the investigations and challan was filed in 2007. On the other hand, police had removed Ram Rahim’s name from the charge sheet. Under pressure from the government, they quickly filed the charge sheet and the trial began in Sirsa court. Police disappointed us at each step.
5. In your opinion who is the biggest culprit among Ram Rahim, Kuldeep, Nirmal and Kishan Lal?
Kuldeep and Nirmal came to shoot my father. They used Kishan Lal’s licensed revolver. These people were just a medium. All of them were Ram Rahim’s followers and lived inside the Dera. Ram Rahim used them and he is the biggest culprit. Kuldeep and Nirmal had no enmity with my father. All this happened under a conspiracy.
6. Ram Rahim is already undergoing 20 year jail term. Will this verdict make any difference?
It will make a lot of difference. He will be devastated. Dera Sacha Sauda collapsed after the verdict in Sadhvi sexual exploitation case in 2017. It was very painful for Ram Rahim’s management. Now their network will also collapse. Even today Dera management is misleading supporters that Baba would soon be out of jail. But now the last ray of hope is gone.
7. Didn’t you ever feel during the 16-year long battle that you must withdraw?
This battle was long but I never felt like giving up. When we began the fight, my 13-year-old brother lodged first FIR against Ram Rahim. Scribes and general public took part in demonstrations against Ram Rahim. We felt these people were fighting without any interest and we were his sons. The lawyers, CBI, media and family supported us throughout our crusade for justice.
(Interview by Manoj Kaushik)