Sadhvis be handed over to police from other state: defence

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Ambala, May 24 (UNI) Denying the charges framed against the Sirsa Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmit Ram Rahim for sexually exploiting the dera sadhvis, his defence counsel today said that the Dera chief had been falsely implicated by the CBI and demanded that the sadhvis be kept under the protection of the Police from some other state instead of the CBI.

Presenting his case in the court of special CBI judge R.K. Saini here today, Defence counsel Surya Prakash stressed that the two sadhvis Sarjeevan and Sapna had earlier given statements in favour of the Dera chief but had retracted their statements later ''under pressure from the CBI'', and had alleged that the Dera chief had raped them.

He further argued that the way witnesses were being kept under the CBI surveillance, ''no one could expect them to speak out the truth''.

''They were bound to give tutored statements as was in the case of sadhvis Sarjeevan and Sapna, who had changed their earlier statements under influence of the CBI'', he alleged.

While dealing with RC 5 (FIR) dated December 12, 2002, he stated that CBI's arguments on the subject pertaining to sexual exploitation of Sarjeevan and Sapna by the Dera Chief, lacked ample support of circumstantial evidences.

The FIR and an anonymous letter disclosing the alleged sexual exploitation, which was mentioned during arguments by the CBI, was a ''figment of imagination aimed at defaming the Dera chief'', the defence counsel said.

The dera chief and other accused in the murder case of Ranjit Singh and Sirsa based journalist Ram Chander Chhatarpati were present in the special CBI court during the proceedings.

The counsel would further take up the arguments on June 7 fixed by the special CBI Judge R K Saini today.

Later, talking to presspersons, Mr Prakash claimed that one of the sadhvis who had deposed in favour of the dera chief, was stated to be ''missing''.

''Surprisingly, the Sirsa Superintendent of Police had claimed that the sadhvi who was reported to have been missing, was in constant contact with either district Police or the CBI'', he said.

He demanded that the whereabouts of the sadhvi should be provided to them and alleged that the sadhvi had been shown as ''missing'' because she had given statements in favour of the dera chief contradicting the allegations of other sadhvis made under pressure of the CBI.

As earlier, tight security arrangements were made both in the Police Lines complex where the CBI court was temporarily shifted in view of the security reasons as also at the Gandhi Grounds Ambala Cantonment where the Dera chief addressed his devotees after attending the CBI court today.


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