Comeuppance for dera head

Justice delivered 16 years after journalist’s murder

The conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim and three others for the 2002 murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati is an ideal example of justice delayed but not denied. Befittingly, the judgment was pronounced by special CBI judge Jagdeep Singh, who had become a role model after he convicted and sentenced the Sirsa dera head in 2017 to a 20-year jail term for the rape of two followers. The verdict is also a face-saver of sorts for the battered and bruised investigating agency, which has been in the news of late mostly for the wrong reasons.

An anonymous letter laying bare sexual abuse of sadhvis on the sect premises, published by Chhatrapati in his evening newspaper Poora Sach, had played a key role in nailing Ram Rahim in the rape cases. It was this letter that had led to the conspiracy to eliminate the fearless mediaperson. Over 16 years after he was gunned down, his family members can finally heave a sigh of relief. Their perseverance and determination to fight a powerful foe, who enjoyed political patronage no matter which party was in power, has paid off. Friday’s verdict has rekindled hopes of the kin of Ranjit Singh, a former dera manager who was also murdered in 2002, allegedly for colluding with Chhatrapati. The CBI is apparently on course to take that case to its logical conclusion as well. Then there is the mass castration case, another monkey on the sect leader’s back.

Thanks to the heavy security in Haryana and Punjab, there was no repeat of the violence that had erupted on August 25, 2017, after Ram Rahim was held guilty in the two rape cases. Even the dera authorities chipped in by appealing to supporters to maintain peace in case of an adverse decision. The Haryana Government averted big trouble by making him appear before the Panchkula court through video-conferencing from Rohtak’s Sunaria jail. Such pre-emptive action has demonstrated that no mob can run riot if the powers that be show some spine instead of bending over backwards to appease vote banks.

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