National News

Ram Rahim murder trial: Court begins hearing arguments, Dera chief appears via video conferencing

His former driver and witness in the case moved an application asking to re-record his statement against the self-styled godman.

A special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation in Haryana’s Panchkula will on Monday continue to hear arguments in the murder case of journalist Ranjit Singh in which Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is named as the main accused on Monday, ANI reported.

The court on Saturday began to hear two murder cases from 2002 – of Ranjit Singh and a Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati. The CBI has accused Ram Rahim of ordering the murder of the two journalists for trying to expose him and the Dera’s activities.

Ram Rahim appeared for the hearing via video-conferencing from a Rohtak jail, where he has been since the same court, on August 28, sentenced him to 20 years in prison for raping two of his followers.

During the hearing, Ram Rahim’s former driver Khatta Singh, who is the main witness in the case, moved an application in court requesting for permission to re-record his statement. Khatta Singh’s lawyer Navkiran Singh told reporters that his client, who had recorded his first statement in 2007, retracted it in 2012 because he feared his life was in danger.

Khatta Singh claimed he was under pressure from “baba and his goons”, according to the Hindustan Times. “I was scared that they would kill me and my son,” he told reporters. “We were threatened.”

The CBI court will take up his plea and announce its decision on September 22.

The first case relates to the murder of Ranjit Singh, a Dera member, in 2002. He was allegedly killed by Dera followers on Ram Rahim’s orders as he suspected that Singh had a role in circulating the anonymous letter by a female follower. This letter had led the CBI to investigate the rape allegations against him.

The second case relates to the murder of Chhatrapati, also in 2002. Chhatrapati’s Poora Sach Hindi daily was the first to publish the anonymous letter accusing Ram Rahim of rape.

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