ADVERTISEMENT

How the ‘Poora Sach’ on Ram Rahim Got This Journalist Killed

The special CBI court sentenced Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for life in prison in journalist’s murder case.

Updated
India
5 min read
Ram Chander Chhatrapati.
i

(This story was first published on 16 September 2017 and has been reposted from The Quint’s archives after the conviction of Ram Rahim and the other accused in the murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati.)

In a diary entry dated somewhere between 1987-88, Ram Chander Chhatrapati penned his exasperation at not being able to sustain his newspaper ‘Sirsa Samrat’. But earnings from his legal practice and a small piece of agricultural land in Haryana’s Sirsa district would help keep his editorial endeavour alive for about three more years.

In February 2002, he would go on to rebrand ‘Sirsa Samrat’ as the ‘Poora Sach’ and a few months later expose the rape of two sadhvis by Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

On the night of 24 October 2002, he was shot four times at point blank range, allegedly by two followers of the controversial sect based in Sirsa, right outside his house.

He succumbed to his injuries around a month later on 21 November 2002, leaving behind a wife, two sons and two daughters who have continued to fight the legal battle for justice.

ADVERTISEMENT

Now, the special CBI court pronounced the final verdict in the murder case on Thursday, 17 January, in Panchkula, where judge Jagdeep Singh, has sentenced the self-styled godman for life in prison for the murder of the journalist.

Judge Singh had also put self-styled godman Gurmeet Singh behind bars on 25 August 2017 for 20 years on charges of raping two women.

Gurmeet Singh’s conviction in the two rape cases that Chhatrapati uncovered 15 years ago is seen as a “ray of hope” for his family awaiting justice.

How the ‘Poora Sach’ on Ram Rahim Got This Journalist Killed
(Photo: Rahul Gupta/The Quint)
ADVERTISEMENT

Who Was Ram Chander Chhatrapati?

How the ‘Poora Sach’ on Ram Rahim Got This Journalist Killed
(Photo: The Quint)

A lawyer-journalist, he had a penchant for truth, that’s how Ram Chander's son Anshul Chhatrapati describes him. “My father wasn’t fond of the profession and would say that lawyers resort to distorting facts and lying,” he tells The Quint during a phone conversation.

Although Ram Chander left the practice to join his family business, he continued writing for numerous news publications till late 1990s.

“But his articles were often cut or rejected if they were too anti-establishment or if his opinion was not supported by the news organisation. These were the issues that gnawed at him and he wanted to write about them,” Anshul says.

Ram Chander then began publishing his Hindi daily ‘Poora Sach’ or ‘the whole truth’ from February 2002 with the help of other scholars, academicians and even a few poets on board.

The focus of the publication was to give the readers original and fresh content and to make them aware. He always made sure the paper was error-free and proofread every page multiple times.

Ram Chander’s Long Battle Against the Dera

Anshul says the first time his father encountered the Dera was when one of its cars crushed a little boy to death in 1998.

“Protests erupted against the Dera and the incident was reported in a local newspaper. Dera supporters responded by threatening the journalists who wrote on the episode. My father was among the group of individuals who spoke out against this kind of censorship. The Dera then submitted a written apology on which even my father had signed,” says Anshul.

Around the same time, the Dera was also in the news for land encroachment in villages nearby.

“They were forcing locals to hand over their land when my father intervened. He asked the locals to write an MoU to the then chief minister to take action. He wanted people to be aware of such transgressions and fight back,” Anshul tells us.

Unchecked and unchallenged, the Dera appears to have become a state unto itself. A more recent report states that the Dera sanctioned illegal residential colonies in its vicinity without the approval of the the Haryana Town and Country Planning Department.

The Dera authorities register all sale deeds and the sellers/buyers do not have to visit the tehsildar’s office.
Tribune Report
ADVERTISEMENT

A Letter to the PM and the News Report That Got Him Killed

On 30 May 2002, a Dera driver became involved in a spat with a police official in Sirsa’s Rori Bazaar. During the argument, the policeman revealed the details of the letter penned by a sadhvi to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee accusing Gurmeet Singh of sexual assault.

  • A copy of the sadhvi’s letter.
The letter also alleged that other women, many of whom even held M Phil and other post-graduation degrees, were subjected to exploitation. It mentioned how Singh threatened her if she reported the happenings in the Dera to anyone and how Singh boasted of his influence in political circles in Haryana and Punjab.

‘Poora Sach’ carried the news of the letter in its paper and continued to publish reports on the same after gathering more details.

  • ‘Poora Sach’ published details of the letter in its 30 May 2002 edition.
  • The newspaper continued to follow the allegations on the Dera chief.

According to a Frontline report, the Punjab and Haryana Court, after taking cognisance of the letter, directed the District and Sessions Judge to conduct an inquiry on 3 September 2002. The latter then recommended that the matter be probed by the CBI. The case was then transferred to the agency on 24 September 2002 and it was directed to submit a report within the next six months.

In the meantime, my father continued to receive threats from the Dera and they even filed an FIR against him. He wrote to the then Superintendent of the Police, but no action was taken.
Anshul Chhatrapati

On the fateful day of 24 October 2002, Ram Chander was shot dead, allegedly by two Dera supporters, Nirmal Singh and Kuldeep Singh.

He was admitted to a hospital in Sirsa and then shifted to New Delhi’s Apollo Hospital.

Even though he was battling for his life, he was conscious and interacting with all. He even gave his statement to the police, but they deleted the portion that mentioned the Dera chief and his supporters as the accused.
Anshul Chhatrapati

Ram Chander passed away on 21 November 2002.

His son is hopeful that the judicial system can deliver justice once again.

After Gurmeet Singh’s conviction in the rape cases, people now know that what my father printed about the Dera was true – even the court agreed. He sacrificed his life, but he has been vindicated. We hope that we get justice for his murder. 

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

ADVERTISEMENT
Published: 
ADVERTISEMENT
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!
ADVERTISEMENT