Ramchandra Chhattrapati: Herculean battle for justice

On November 21, 2002, the courageous and indefatigable journalist Ramchandra Chhattrapati died in a hospital in Delhi, 28 days after he was shot by two persons who were followers of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the head of the Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa, Haryana.

It has taken his family, in particular his son, Anshul Chhattrapati, an incredible 16 years to secure justice. Today, coincidentally on his death anniversary, the hearing for the final arguments against two accused: Gurmeet Ram Rahim and Kishan Lal, the manager of the Dera Sacha Sauda, will be held in the special CBI court.

Already, the court has recorded the testimony of Khatta Singh, a former driver of Dera Sacha Sauda chief, who had earlier turned hostile but came forward to depose after Ram Rahim’s conviction in the rape case last year. Now, this is the final stage in the case.

Ram Chandra Chhatrapati was shot by two persons outside his home in Sirsa on October 24, 2002, and died in Apollo Hospital in Delhi on Nov 21, 2002. In hospital, even as he struggled for his life, he gave a statement to police naming Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the head of the Dera Sacha Sauda, as the perpetrator of the attack on him. But police were reluctant to include the name of the dera in the statement they recorded.

It took a Herculean struggle by his son, Anshul, to secure justice for his father’s killing.  struggle that is still going on.

Click here for a complete timeline on the case so far.

Click here to read journalist and writer Pushpraj’s impassioned plea to remember the life and struggle of this heroic journalist.

Gauri Lankesh : Gun used to shoot Gauri Lankesh was at arms training site too

 A crucial finding by the Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT) could conclusively prove the that the 7.65-mm pistol used to shoot Gauri Lankesh  was in the possession of a group of Hindu right-wing radicals prior to the murder. The SIT was led to a forested are near Belagavi on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border where Parashuram Waghmare, the man accused of shooting the journalist was trained in usage of guns weeks ahead of the murder.

gauri investigation
Police teams collective evidence outside Gauri Lankesh’s residence (Pic courtesy:Deccan Chronicle)

Six bullets and six cartridges were located and sent to the Karnataka Forensic Science lab where analysis revealed that one bullet and one cartridge has the same features found on four bullets fired at Lankesh, indicating that the same 7.65-mm country-made pistol was fired at the two sites. The other bullets and cartridges found at the forest site are concluded to have been fired from other guns, according to forensic analysis.

Lankesh was killed on September 5, 2017, by a gunman who fired four bullets at her while she was opening the gate to her home. Following the murder, police recovered three bullets that hit her and one that missed, and the four empty cartridges. They were sent for forensic analysis and comparison with bullets and cartridges. A September 13, 2017 ballistics report provided to the SIT reported that analysis of bullets and cartridges revealed that Kannada scholar M.M Kalburgi and Lankesh were killed with the same pistol. The SIT is yet to find the gun used in the journalist’s murder. The SIT is, however, yet to conduct forensic analysis of over a dozen guns found in possession of persons arrested in Maharashtra for alleged involvement in terrorism and the Lankesh murder.

Forensic analysis in 2015 by the Karnataka forensic lab of bullets and cartridges in the Kalburgi case with those recovered from the scene of the shooting of Leftist thinker Govind Pansare, 81, and his wife in Kolhapur on February 16, 2015 showed that one of two 7.65 mm countrymade guns used to shoot the Pansares was used to shoot Kalburgi. The report says the second 7.65-mm gun used in Pansare’s murder was used to kill rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, 69, at Pune on August 20, 2013. These forensic reports of Karnataka FSL from 2015 have been validated at the Gujarat FSL.

 Karnataka SIT has so far arrested 16 persons — several of them linked to Sanatan Sanstha, its affiliate Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and other radical Hindutva groups — in connection with Lankesh’s murder, including alleged shooter Waghmare and his alleged recruiter Amol Kale. Lankesh was killed for her “anti-Hindu” stance, some of those arrested have said.

The group allegedly used the same set of guns for the four murders that they are now linked to because they considered the guns to be “special’’, sources said.

The SIT recently presented a memo to a court in Bengaluru to make Amol Kale, 37, the first accused, alleged shooter Waghmare the second accused. Amit Degwekar, 38, a Sanstha man who was allegedly central to planning the murder has now been listed at number five.

For more, and to see the SIT’s revised the list of persons accused in the Lankesh murder case on the basis of their involvement, click here.

For the detailed case history, click here