Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 11
Even as slain journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati’s son Anshul fought a lone battle for over 16 years to get justice, the media fraternity failed their own member.
When Chhatrapati fell to the bullets on October 24, 2002, hundreds of journalists assembled in Sirsa and pledged a fight till justice was delivered to the his family, but they soon forgot him, leaving Anshul alone in his battle.
It was only when Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted in a case of sexual exploitation of sadhvis on August 25, 2017 that a battery of scribes and TV journalists gathered outside Anshul’s Sirsa residence. Otherwise, between 2002 and 2017, Anshul had to fight almost a lone battle.
“I vividly remember Anshul used to come with evidence against Ram Rahim and press notes. But barring publishing a few single-column news items, we hardly took note. He deserved a better treatment, since his father had to die for reporting the truth,” says a senior desk journalist working in a leading newspaper.
An old time journalist friend of Chhatrapati in Sirsa admits that the media had failed him for the greed of gift hampers and free lunches they were getting from the dera.
“It is not that we journalists alone are to blame. Political parties also played a role in distancing the media from Chhatrapati's family. Political leaders needed dera for votes. They considered those standing with Chhatrapatis as those against the dera and against them,” he adds.
Anshul though says he has no complaint against the media and rather is all praise for the Chandigarh media, Lekh Raj Dhot, a senior advocate in Sirsa district courts who has been supporting Anshul in his fight, says that when they organised the first “Chhatrapati Samman”, almost all local journalists attended the function. “However, the number started depleting and a time came when very few journalists were seen on November 21 every year.”