Final arguments in the two murder cases naming jailed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh began in a special CBI court today. The cases, related to the murder of Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati and former Dera manager Ranjit Singh, allegedly by functionaries and followers of the sect is being held in the court of special CBI judge Jagdeep Singh.
While seven accused in the murder cases were present in the court in Panchkula, adjoining Chandigarh, rape convict Ram Rahim Singh took part in the hearing through video conferencing from the District Jail in Sunaria near Rohtak. Chhatrapati and Ranjit Singh were murdered in 2002.
As it happened:
01:05 pm: Khatta Singh, witness in murder case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim said he was scared that Dera goons would kill him and his son.
12:02 pm: Khatta Singh (witness) agreed to appear before court. Filed application. Court will decide on September 22 if his statement will be taken, says lawyer Navkiran Singh.
10:38 am: Hearing begins in Guru Ram Rahim Singh murder case.
10:25 am: Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is an accused in both murder cases as these were carried out allegedly at his behest.
10:21 am: The same court had, on August 25, convicted Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on two counts of rape of female disciples.
09:58 am: Police officials on Friday said that rapist Ram Rahim will not be physically produced in the CBI special court on Saturday.
09:52 am: "We have made adequate security arrangements ahead of the hearing in the cases," Haryana Director General of Police B S Sandhu said.
09:49 am: There are no reports of the Dera followers assembling in Panchkula ahead of today's hearing, unlike the rape case hearing where over one lakh followers had converged in the town.
09:43 am: Sirsa-based journalist Chhatrapati was shot at in October, 2002 after the evening newspaper 'Poora Sach', owned by him, published an anonymous letter narrating how women were allegedly being sexually exploited by the sect head at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa. He died later.
09:39 am: The second case relates to the murder of former Dera manager Ranjit Singh who was allegedly shot dead in 2002. He was murdered for his suspected role in the circulation of the anonymous letter, which had made the sexual exploitation allegations, according to the prosecution.
09:34 am: Ram Rahim is currently lodged in the District Jail in Sunaria near Rohtak.
09:30 am: The Dera chief was sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment by the CBI court on August 28.
09:28 am: His conviction led to violence in Panchkula and Sirsa in Haryana, leaving 38 people dead and 264 injured.