Bhartesh Singh Thakur
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 11
On October 23, 2002, a day before he was shot, “Poora Sach” editor Ram Chander Chhatrapati published a story that the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed the prayer of dera for not referring the investigation of sexual exploitation of followers to the CBI. He succumbed to injuries on November 21, 2002.
The newspaper’s stories on the dera were part of evidence in the Chhatrapati murder case. On May 30, 2002, a story under the headline “Dharam ke naam par kiye ja rahein hain sadhviyon ke jeeven barbad (In the name of religion, women followers’ lives are being destroyed)” was prominently placed on the front page.
It talked about the anonymous complaint about sexual exploitation of women followers by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. The complaint was addressed to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. On June 4, 2002, and on June 28, 2002, also, Chhatrapati had published related stories.
On June 7, 2002, Chhatrapati had published an article condemning the attack on Lekha Jokha’s newspaper office in Fatehabad and assault on RK Sethi of the newspaper by the dera people.
Again on September 25, 2002, he had published a front page news item on the High Court giving orders for CBI investigation against Dera Sacha Sauda in the case of sexual exploitation of women followers. On September 29, 2002, a front page story that the dera had been asking for banning “Poora Sach” appeared. The campaign against the dera was relentless.
After Chhatrapati was shot, his son, Anshul, took over the paper. “We continued to bring out the daily for 12 years before we closed it down in 2014,” he said.
My father started a campaign to expose this hypocrite (dera chief) through ‘Poora Sach’, but only today it has achieved finality. — Anshul Chhatrapati