Self-styled Godman and Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, who was earlier convicted in a rape case and for the murder of a journalist, was today sentenced to life imprisonment by a special CBI court in Haryana’s Panchkula in the murder case of his former manager Ranjit Singh. The case dates back to 2002.
Along with Ram Rahim, the court also sentenced four others Jasbir Singh, Sabdil Singh, Krishan Lal and Inder Sain to life imprisonment. Here’s a quick look at the case history:
Ranjit Singh Murder Case
Ranjit Singh was a staunch follower of Rahim Singh and one of the managers at the Dera in Sirsa, Haryana. He was shot dead on July 10, 2002. Consequently, an FIR was filed on charges of murder and criminal conspiracy at the Thanesar police station and on November 10, 2003, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered a CBI investigation in the case, the Indian Express said in a report. The CBI then registered an FIR on December 3, 2003, and in the agency’s investigation, Jasbir Singh, Sabdil Singh, Krishan Lal, Inder Sain and the dera chief were named as accused.
Two Intertwined Murders
The CBI chargesheet stated that Rahim suspected Ranjit Singh of circulating an anonymous letter among Dera followers. The letter’s contents accused him of sexually exploiting women Dera followers (sadhvis), and it was highlighted in a news report by Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati. Then, on the night of 24 October the same year, two men riding a motorcycle shot Chhatrapati at point-blank range outside his residence. The journalist succumbed to his injuries four weeks later and the Dera chief was convicted for his role in the murder on 11 January 2019 and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the case by Special CBI Court on 17 January 2019.
As Rahim suspected Ranjit Singh to be responsible for the letter, he also hatched a conspiracy to kill him.
In the murder case of Chhatrapati, local police had arrested two carpenters, Nirmal Singh and Kuldeep Singh, for the shooting and cited them on the FIR. The men allegedly worked at the Dera. Three months after Ram Chander Chhatrapati’s murder in January 2003, his son and successor as proprietor of the local newspaper, Anshul Chhatrapati, had petitioned the High Court for a CBI investigation into Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, which was accepted by the High Court nine months later in November.
The CBI filed a charge sheet against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim in July 2007. The evidence presentation concluded in November 2014, along with the related case involving the murder of Ranjit Singh. The primary accused, Nirmal Singh, was granted bail in January 2017, 14 years after his arrest. Kuldeep Singh, the other man on the motorcycle, had already been released on bail shortly after his arrest. The review of the murder case reached final arguments in the same CBI special court in Panchkula that had found the Dera chief guilty of rape on August 25, 2017.
A CBI court had convicted Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a 14-year-old rape case in 2017. According to the court, the Dera chief was found guilty of raping two female followers.
According to the Indian Express, in 2002, a sadhvi from Dera Sacha Sauda sent an anonymous letter to then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The sadhvi claimed in the letter that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh raped her and other sadhvis, after which he warned her to keep quiet and boasted of his political clout in Haryana and Punjab. According to the national daily, the Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo motu cognizance of the letter in September of that year and referred it to the CBI for an investigation.
The report said that after the CBI questioned a number of sadhvis who had left the Dera, two of the women who were questioned accused the Dera chief of raping them. Following that, on July 30, 2007, the CBI filed a chargesheet.