Dera chief’s driver to record new state­ment

Deccan Chronicle - - NATION -

Panchkula, Sept. 16: Fi­nal ar­gu­ments in the two mur­der cases nam­ing jailed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh be­gan in a spe­cial CBI court on Satur­day with his for­mer driver fil­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion to record a fresh state­ment against him.

The dis­graced cult leader, who is lodged in Ro­htak’s Su­naria jail on charges of rape, ap­peared via video­con­fer­enc­ing. He has been named as the main con­spir­a­tor in the cases.

His driver, Khatta Singh, ap­proached the court seek­ing to record a fresh state­ment against the sect head, his coun­sel Navki­ran Singh said.

Khatta, a wit­ness in the mur­der cases, had re­tracted his state­ment in 2012. He had turned hos­tile as he was un­der pres­sure from Ram Rahim and his “goons”, Mr singh al­leged.

The court of Judge Jagdeep Singh posted the next date of hear­ing on his ap­pli­ca­tion for Septem­ber 22.

The CBI court is hear­ing the cases of killings of jour­nal­ist Ram Chan­der Ch­ha­tra­p­ati and for­mer Dera man­ager Ran­jit Singh.

Ch­ha­tra­p­ati was shot at in Oc­to­ber 2002 after a news­pa­per owned by him, Poora Sach, pub­lished an anony­mous let­ter nar­rat­ing how women were be­ing sex­u­ally ex­ploited by the sect head at the Dera head­quar­ters.

Ran­jit was al­legedly shot dead in July 2002.

Ac­cord­ing to the pros­e­cu­tion, he was mur­dered for his sus­pected role in cir­cu­lat­ing the anony­mous let­ter which made the al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ex­ploita­tion.

In Fe­bru­ary 2011, Khatta had told the court that Ram Rahim had not or­dered to kill any­one and had no role to play in Ran­jit’s mur­der.

The CBI judge granted per­mis­sion for video-con­fer­enc­ing on Fri­day after Panchkula DCP Man­bir Singh moved an ap­pli­ca­tion, con­tend­ing that they can­not bring the Dera chief in per­son due to law and or­der prob­lem.

Con­tin­gents of para­mil­i­tary troops and the Haryana Po­lice has been de­ployed in Panchkula as se­cu­rity ar­range­ments were tight­ened ahead of the hear­ing.

On Au­gust 25, after the CBI court con­victed Ram Rahim for rap­ing two of his fe­male dis­ci­ples, vi­o­lence erupted in Panchkula and Sirsa in which 41 peo­ple died.

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