A CBI court at Panchkula Friday convicted Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and his three followers, Krishan Lal, Nirmal Singh and Kuldeep Singh, on charges of murder and criminal conspiracy. All four were charged with hatching the conspiracy and murdering Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chattarpati, 51, in 2002.
CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh announced the verdict and held all four accused guilty. While Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is already undergoing a 20-year-imprisonment on rape charges, the three convicts were also taken into custody after the verdict.
The quantum of the sentence will be pronounced on January 17.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh appeared in today’s court proceedings through video conferencing. He is currently lodged in Sunaria jail at Rohtak. The three other convicts will now be taken to Ambala jail.
In May 2002, Ram Chander Chattarpati had published a news item in his newspaper, “Poora Sacha”, about an anonymous complaint from a sadhvi about the sexual exploitation of sadhvis at Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa.
Following this, Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal Singh shot at him on October 24, 2002 evening. Krishan Lal’s licensed .32 bore revolver was used in the crime.
Chattarpati was rushed to a government hospital in Sirsa, from where he was referred to PGIMS, Rohtak. He was then shifted to Apollo hospital, New Delhi on November 8, 2002. The journalist, however, succumbed to injuries on November 21, 2002.
While Kuldeep Singh was arrested from the spot, immediately after Chattarpati was shot at, Nirmal Singh was arrested on October 26, 2002. Police had recovered a walkie-talkie belonging to Dera Sacha Sauda and Krishan Lal’s .32 bore revolver from his possession.
Though the Haryana Police filed a chargesheet in the case on December 5, 2002, it did not name the Dera chief. Not satisfied with the police investigation, Chattarpati’s son Anshul Chattarpati approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court that transferred the case to CBI on November 10, 2003.
The CBI, in its chargesheet, had indicted all the convicts.
“The investigation conducted by the CBI has, thus, established that accused Baba Gurmeet Singh, chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa, accused Krishan Lal Prabandhak of Dera Sacha Sauda and accused Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal, carpenters at Dera Sacha Sauda entered into a criminal conspiracy on or before October 23, 2002 to kill Ram Chander Chattarpati, a journalist of newspaper “Poora Sach, Sirsa”and in furtherance thereof, accused Krishan Lal gave his licensed revolver and a walkie-talkie of the Dera to accused Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal Singh in the presence of Baba Gurmeet Singh. Thereafter, both Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal Singh shot at Ram Chander Chattarpati on October 24, 2002 at his residence at about 7.30 pm resulting in his death subsequently on account of the said gun shot injuries”.
The CBI chargesheet further read, “Baba Gurmeet Singh, Krishan Lal, Nirmal Singh and Kuldeep Singh have thus, committed offences punishable under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with Section 302 (murder) of Indian Penal Code. Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal Singh also committed substantive offences under Section 302 (murder) of IPC. Nirmal Singh also committed offences under Section 25/27 Arms Act”.