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Dera Chief’s Conviction Reaffirmed My Faith in Judiciary: Son of Slain Journalist

Chandigarh: The son of a slain journalist, who first published an anonymous letter addressed to then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that eventually led to the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a 2002 rape case, said the verdict has reaffirmed his faith in the law.

Anshul Chhatrapati’s father Ram Chander Chhatrapati was killed on October 24, 2002, five months after ‘Pura Sach’, a newspaper run by him, published an anonymous letter accusing the Dera chief of rape.

“My father’s death was a direct result of his publishing the anonymous letter in the edition dated May 30, 2002. The next day onwards, there were threats and he understood that he was likely to be killed. Still, he decided to soldier on,” Anshul said in a press conference.

He claimed that another newspaper in Fatehabad had been attacked for “daring” to publish news that did not show the Dera in a favourable light.

On the case of his father’s killing, which is in the stage of final arguments in the court, Anshul refused to divulge anything that could impact the trial, but said, “It is well known that the Dera tried to ensure that no CBI probe took place into the case.”

“We pleaded with the Punjab and Haryana High Court for a CBI probe, which was granted. The evidence stage of the trial went on from 2007 to 2014. Then, time and again, Gurmeet (Dera chief) made requests for exemptions on medical grounds, even as he was shooting a film,” he said.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was jailed for 20 years by a CBI court in two rape cases last month.

“My faith in law has been reaffirmed. The sacrifice of my father was to uphold the journalistic principles of complete truth,” Anshu said, adding other cases against the Dera chief could also end with his conviction.

Drawing parallels between a soldier on the border with his gun and a journalist with his pen ready to write the truth, Anshul said, “A journalist is akin to a soldier, use your pen wisely.”

On whether he favoured a particular political ideology as he had named certain Congress leaders for allegedly attempting to put pressure on the CBI over the investigation, he categorically replied, “All political parties whether in power or in opposition have always given lip-service, but none really provided any degree of service (in the case).”

“The real heroes are the Sadhvis and the witnesses who withstood enormous pressure and intimidation to stand by the truth,” Anshul said.

He wished that people would not be brain-washed into believing in anybody without logic and reason and the media, despite its limitations, had to play an important role in ensuring this.

Source: News18