COURT SAYS CBI HUSHING UP DERA CASES
The CBI finds itself under pressure for filing chargesheets
against the Dera in cases of murder and sexual abuse
The downfall of
the Dera’s fortunes can be traced back to 2002-03 when the Punjab
and Haryana High Court (HC) ordered the CBI to probe charges of two
murders and of rape and sexual exploitation of sadhvis by Baba Gurmeet
Ram Rahim Singh. Though the probe was time bound, repeated extensions
sought by the CBI, as also litigation against the HC’s orders
in the Supreme Court, have meant that the investigating agency has filed
a chargesheet in only one of the three cases, the Ranjit Singh murder
case, and that too not the final one. There is overwhelming evidence
to suggest that the CBI is doing what it does best: hushing up politically
inconvenient cases. This led to a scathing indictment of the CBI by
the HC on April 16, 2007, and is suspected to be a major factor behind
the trouble in Punjab provoked by an advertisement placed by the Baba
on May 13, 2007, in two regional dailies.
A Division Bench
of Justice AK Goel and Justice HS Bhalla asked the CBI director to explain
the delay and indicated the possibility of initiating contempt proceedings.
The HC went so far as to record: “A period of almost five years
has expired. Such gross delay in investigation can hardly be expedient
to administration of justice and creates a doubt about the sincerity
and competence of the officers who have been assigned the responsibility
of carrying out the investigation. We are unable to hold that there
is any genuine reason for the CBI for not having concluded the investigation
so far…The only inference is that the officers concerned have
either not been sincere enough or have been acting on extraneous considerations
in dealing with the matter.”
judges said the CBI officers seemed to be acting on extraneous
On July 10, 2002, Dera
functionaries shot dead their former colleague Ranjit Singh while he was
working in his fields in Kurukshetra. Singh was suspected to have leaked
an anonymous letter written to the Prime Minister by a sadhvi alleging
rape at the hands of Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. According to the CBI
chargesheet, Ranjit had been threatened by the accused to seek apology
from the Baba. The CBI arrested Inder Sain, Avtar Singh, Kishan Lal Pradhan,
Jasbir Singh and Sabdil Singh. While the CBI has accused these five persons
“and others” of criminal conspiracy, the Baba has not figured
in the CBI’s chargesheet.
On September 24, 2002, the HC ordered the CBI to probe
allegations of sexual exploitation made in the anonymous letter by the
sadhvi and also in pursuance of the report submitted on the matter to
the HC by the Sirsa District and Sessions Judge.
On October 10,
2002, Ram Chandar Chhatarpati, the Sirsa-based editor of Poora Sach,
was shot and grievously wounded by two men who were later arrested.
Chhatarpati had done a series of stories on the dera, and had also
published allegations of rape and sexual exploitation against the Baba.
Later, dera Manager Krishan Lal was also arrested in the case. Sirsa
police investigations showed that the crime was committed with Lal’s
licensed revolver, and that the walkie-talkie used in the crime was
licensed in the name of the dera.
Much has been made of the
CBI coming under political pressure from the Punjab Congress and the upa
government in the wake of the dera’s public support for the party
in the last Assembly polls. In a development that outraged the Chhatarpati
family, one of the two investigating officers, dsp Armaan Deep Singh,
was removed from the cases by the CBI’s top brass in New
Delhi soon after the Assembly polls. On one occasion, when the CBI went
to question the Baba at Sirsa in 2005, the team was browbeaten by the
Baba’s relative, Congress member Harminder Singh Jassi, and then
cm Amarinder Singh’s media advisor bis Chahal at a Sirsa rest house.
One of the two officers, DSP
Armaan Deep Singh, was abruptly removed from the Dera cases
son Anshul says the CBI failed to record the statement of the Baba’s
driver, Khatta Singh, before a magistrate. “Armaan Deep was doing
a good job and had even written to the CBI director seeking the Baba’s
arrest but he was not allowed to do so. After the polls, the CBI’s
efforts to question — leave alone arrest the Baba —
have evaporated,” Anshul said.
by Tehelka, CBI officers refused to comment.
02 , 2007
provoked by the Dera Sacha Sauda was carefully timed. Sikh hardliners
have seized their opportunity, reports Vikram
vice at the seat of virtue
Singh came to be the current Dera head with a Khalistan leader’s
help and has amassed a fortune ever since
Court says CBI hushing up Dera cases
CBI finds itself under pressure for filing chargesheets against the
Dera in cases of murder and sexual abuse
a woman devotee’s complaint of sexual exploitation by Baba Gurmeet
Singh prompted a CBI inquiry into the charges