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India 26 November 2002

Editor dies from religious sect shooting injuries

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières) today voiced its dismay at the death on 23 November of journalist Ram Chander Chaterpatti from the injuries he received when shot by a religious sect member a month ago in Sirsa (Haryana state).

The organisation called on Haryana chief minister Om Parkash Chautala to ensure that all those involved in Chaterpatti’s killing are identified and brought to justice and that the sect’s practices are thoroughly investigated.

Chaterpatti, 52, was the editor of a Sirsa-based, Hindi-language newspaper called Poora Sach (The Whole Truth). He died in a New Delhi hospital where he was being treated for his injuries. He was hit four times when gunned down outside his home in Sirsa on 24 October by an alleged member of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect.

The shooting was apparently linked to articles Chaterpatti wrote on alleged sexual abuses and other illegal activities by members of the sect and its guru, Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji. According to his family, Chaterpatti had been writing about the sect for some time, and had been threatened on several occasions.

Aditya Arora, a sect representative, confirmed that Chaterpatti was "warned several times to stop his attacks against the sect because he was upsetting its members." At least four persons including one of the sect’s directors were arrested in the course of the investigation carried out after the shooting.

Chaterpatti is survived by three children.

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