WION Web Exclusive: 'My father was shot for exposing Ram Rahim, but his readers helped me'
Anshul is the son of slain journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati, who first unmasked the unholy deeds of the Dera chief through his newspaper, 'Poora Sach'. Photograph: (ANI)
The Special CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) Court today (August 28) announced the quantum of punishment for Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, sentencing him to 20 years in prison. WION correspondent, Sneha Mukherjee spoke with Anshul, the son of slain journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati, who first unmasked the unholy deeds of the Dera chief through his newspaper, 'Poora Sach'.
Q: Knowing the risks involved, political interference (in investigations), and life threats, what motivated your father to take up the fight against the Dera?
A: He understood the repercussions of his decision, but he took it as a challenge to expose the lies (of the Dera chief). He was committed to truth.
Q: Apart from the already mentioned cases in court against the Dera, what were the other things happening inside?
A: There was a sadhu (spiritual practitioner) named Fakir Chand who went missing one fine day. When enquiries were made near the Dera, the disappearance was tracked back to the Dera Pramukh (chief). It was said the sadhu was murdered because he knew too much. Nothing was done in this case. The followers ransacked the police station where a case was registered about his disappearance.
Q: What happened prior to and on October 24, 2002?
A: My father was continuously getting threat calls and on October 24, 2002 two followers of the Dera came to our house and shot him. One of them was nabbed by a police constable while they were running away. The recovered revolver belonged to Kishan Lal, then the Dera manager. Later other evidences were unearthed that made it clear that this act was a conspiracy by the Dera Sacha Sauda.
After the incident, he was admitted for 28 days in hospital. He was fully conscious and used to walk and talk during the first two weeks, but the police did not record his statement in the presence of a magistrate.
When they later came to record a statement, my father very specifically reported that, the Dera chief was involved in this act. After his demise, we came to know that his allegations were omitted by the police from the statement.
It was crystal clear that the state government was hand-in-glove with the Dera and were protecting them by creating pressure on the police force.
Q: At the age of 21, what was the first step in your fight to get justice after your father was killed?
A: After realising the fact that the police were not there to protect us, but they would protect murderers, We challenged the police investigation in Punjab and Haryana High Court in January 2003. I moved a petition demanding a CBI investigation in the matter.
I was never alone in my fight, there were people who supported me. These were people who loved my father as a writer and journalist. They protested and campaigned with me in different pockets in Haryana.
One such campaign, Jan Sangharsh, was attacked by Dera members. Instead of protecting the victims, the state police took us in custody and refused to lodge a case against them. My father's friends who were lawyers helped me register this case in Punjab and Haryana High Court after which our legal battle that we see today was shaped slowly.
Q: As per you, what delayed justice for more than a decade?
A: The CBI investigation was continuously being hindered by Congress and other local political parties. I give all the credit of bringing this case to justice to the CBI investigating officer who, against all odds and pressure from various political parties, did his work diligently. It is because of his work that today we have been able to seek justice.
Q: Going ahead where does your fight take you next?
A: This is just the beginning. The judgment can be challenged in higher courts and we have braced ourselves to fight for justice till the end.