A special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation will hear two murder cases against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on Saturday in Haryana’s Panchkula. The accused will appear before the court via video-conferencing from Rohtak jail, where he has been since the same court sentenced him to 20 years on August 28 for raping two women.
The first case relates to the murder of Ranjit Singh, a member of the Dera’s 10-member committee who was killed in 2002 by members of the sect allegedly on Ram Rahim’s orders. The Dera chief is believed to have suspected that Singh had a role in circulating an anonymous letter by a female follower, who had alleged that he had sexually exploited her. It was this letter that began the investigation into the rape allegations against Ram Rahim.
The second case relates to the murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati, who based out of Sirsa where the Dera headquarters is located. “A day before his death [in 2016], I had met [Ranjit Singh’s father] Jogender Singh,” an unidentified relative of Ranjit Singh told The Indian Express. “His only sorrow was that he could not ensure justice for his son. But now, the conviction of the Dera chief under rape charges has generated hopes for us again.”
Security has been heightened in Panchkula and around the district court’s complex ahead of the hearing. Paramilitary and police personnel have been deployed around the court premises and several areas of Panchkula, Haryana Director General of Police BS Sandhu said. CBI judge Jagdeep Singh, who had delivered the verdict in the rape cases against Ram Rahim, will hear the murder cases, as well.