PANCHKULA: Nearly 17 years after senior journalist Ram Chander Chhatarpati was shot at in broad daylight, Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and three other persons were finally convicted for the murder by a Special Central Bureau of Investigation Court in Panchkula on Friday. But this fight for justice, led by the slain journalist's son Anshul Chhatrapati, was not easy.
Here's a complete sequence of events from the incidents that led to the scribe's death to the final conviction of 51-year-old self-styled godman.
Lawyer-cum-journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati rebrands his ‘Sirsa Samrat’ newspaper as the ‘Poora Sach’, giving it a new leash of life. He publishes an anonymous letter narrating how 'sadhvis' or female followers were being sexually-exploited by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa. There's a lot of pressure on Chhatrapati
Former sect manager Ranjit Singh, suspected of circulating the letter detailing sexual-exploitation, allegedly murdered by sect activists at the behest of its Dera chief. Case currently under trial with the CBI court.
October 24, 2002
Chhatrapati shot at outside his home. According to reports, two bike-borne assailants fired point-blank range at the journalist.
November 21, 2002
Journalist succumbs to his injuries in Delhi's Apollo hospital. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh alleged to be the key conspirator of the murder.
With efforts of son Anshul Chhatrapati and others, a case is registered against the Dera chief. The Punjab and Haryana High Court orders probe into the rape and sexual exploitation of the Sadhvis by the sect chief. Two carpenters Nirmal Singh and Kuldeep Singh were arrested for the shooting by local police. The men reportedly worked at the Dera headquarters.
Case transferred to CBI.
2007 to 2017
Nearly 200 hearings of the rape case held over a decade. Gurmeet Ram Rahim continues to elude prison, out on bail.
August 25, 2017
Dera chief found guilty of raping and sexually exploiting two female disciples by the Special CBI court. Unhappy with the court verdict, Dera followers resort to violence. Riots breakout in Panchkula and other parts of Haryana.
August 28, 2017
Gurmeet Singh sentenced to 20 years jail for the rape and sexual exploitation of two female disciples.
Former driver of the Dera chief Khatta Singh, who had earlier tipped off CBI in 2007 on Gurmeet Singh's role, deposed in the murder cases of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati and Dera follower Ranjit Singh. He turned hostile during his testimony in the CBI court in February 2012, later stating that he did so due to the threat from the Dera chief and his goons.
After presenting 64 witnesses, including two relatives of Ram Chander Chhatarpati, CBI counsel submits a 28-page chargesheet.
January 11, 2019
Nearly 17 years after Chhatarpati's death, Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh convicted as key conspirator for his murder by Special CBI Court. Three others – Nirmal Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Krishan Lal – also convicted for the murder. According to reports, one of three drove the bike, one fired the pistol while the third owned the murder weapon.
January 17, 2019
Sentencing to be pronounced against Gurmeet Singh and three others.