As the curtain came down on a 15-year old battle with the Dera chief’s sentencing, Anshul Chatarpati talks to Tanveer Thakur about the sensational case.
What is your reaction to Gurmeet Ram Rahim's jail sentence for the rape of two Sadhvis?
Finally justice has been done. I salute all those who fought to bring Ram Rahim to justice, specially the CBI officers and the judge, who pronounced him guilty. I also salute those two sadhvis who stood up for justice despite so many threats. It has given us hope that we too will get justice in my father’s murder case.
How old were you when your father was killed ?
I was 22 when my father (Ramchander Chatarpati) was murdered in 2002. He used to bring out a local newspaper called Pura Sach. He was the first to publish the news about the Sadhvis’ letter to the Prime Minister, in which they accused Ram Rahim of raping them and other sadhvis. That angered the Dera head and my father was killed outside our house.
How did life change for your family after that? Did your family receive any threats?
We never received any direct threats but there was pressure to withdraw the case. But we received support from many NGOs. The Punjab and Haryana high court ordered an inquiry and a probe was launched in January 2003. I moved a petition demanding a CBI investigation. The local bar association also helped us.
Do you feel that there are still any incidents which could further reveal the Dera’s dark secrets?
People in Sirsa know there are many cases which have not been reported. For instance, there was a follower of baba called Fakir Chand, who went missing. Locals say he was murdered on the chief's order, as he knew too much about him. The police just filed a missing case. Earlier, people were afraid of him but now I expect people will come out and reveal the atrocities of Gurmeet Ram Rahim.