Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 11
Though Ram Chander Chhatrapati’s eldest son, Anshul, voiced the family’s ordeal as they weathered the blows of adverse circumstances after his father’s murder, the women of the house held the fort with unending perseverance.
At their house, on Friday, late Chhatrapati’s youngest son, Aridaman (31), waxed eloquent about the happenings at the special CBI court in Panchkula as it convicted dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
He had found an attentive audience in his mother, two sisters and distant relatives who fed their anticipation and curiosity about the verdict with updates flashing on the TV screen. “They’d only allowed Anshul and me in. Baba didn’t speak a word; his days of talking are over, it seems. Pulled back in a pony tail, his hair had greyed. I was told that he bathed today. The judge announced the verdict in English and he couldn’t understand it, so it was translated in Hindi for him. I tried to keep my composure throughout, but couldn’t hold my tears when I went up to thank the judge. Let’s see what happens on January 17,” he said.
Kranti, Chhatrapati’s eldest daughter, wells up as she recollects, “He christened me. He was a stickler for discipline and grammar, and would often ask me to proof-read the paper. If there was a mistake, we were reprimanded.”
Sitting in a corner, the expression of contentment was evident on his widow Kulwant Kaur’s face.
At 63, she remembers how he’d often come home and tell her about the threats he’s been getting from the goons of the dera. “He was unstoppable and would often brush aside my fears by telling me how good people always win,” she said.
Though the family struggled through financial crisis after his death, which also led them to shutdown his paper “Poora Sach”, the leading ladies of Chhatrapati’s life are determined to bring back the eveninger some day. “My Papa did not die. He’s a martyr who sacrificed his life following his quest for truth,” she signs off, quoting US Senator Hiram Johnson’s words: “The first casualty when war comes is truth and his was a war against phoney religious babas.”