Afternoon Voice appreciates spiritual leaders, but not the one who is facing criminal charges.
Vikas Chaudhary, a disciple of Dera Sacha Sauda, had sent a legal notice to Afternoon Voice for publishing edit and lead story about their spiritual leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Our newspaper or its Editor has not made any personal allegation against him but also quoted references made by various sources which have claimed Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is accused and alleged of various criminal cases. I still strongly believe Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh could have involved local Mumbaikars in his cleanliness drive, and proven his strength by cleaning slums in areas like Dharavi, Sion Koliwada, Mumbra, Gaondevi, Nagpada whereas Bandra-Kurla Complex is considered to be one of the posh localities of Mumbai which hardly needed any attention.
The amount of money spent on PR, publicity, transportation of people from Haryana and Punjab to Mumbai, celebrity invitation could have been used for slumdwellers who are suffering from diseases like dengue, malaria etc. These areas lack proper drainage system.
If a city like Mumbai would have been cleaned in a two hour drive, no wonder it would have ended up becoming one of the cleanest cities of India. Celebrities posing for camera and Guruji sweeping under a secured and barricaded area is what the whole drive was? Some organisers were hired to make this event successful and media was almost paid to publish the news with full page advertisements.
We expect the lawyer and his client should tender an apology for imposing undue pressure and mental trauma and for denying us the “Freedom of Speech and Expression” with reference to article 19(1) of the Constitution of India.
We had termed this cleanliness drive as “Drama” because like Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, there are many celebrities who have hired hundreds of servants at home for household work, and have taken the broom merely for the sake of garnering publicity. If this is called social work, we don’t think Babaji really needs to invite media for coverage. He could have silently rendered his services and gone back. By stating a fact, if any of his disciple’s sentiments are getting hurt, then we are sorry to say, but this profession will come to an end by limiting the Fundamental Right of Freedom of Speech and Expression.
We would like to bring to the notice of the lawyer and his client that Afternoon Voice has a strong reputation of publishing news supported by facts and sources. In the history of Afternoon Voice, we have never published a false story and never will.
We have always been strong, true in journalism and we always will be. I appreciate spiritual leaders, but not one who is facing criminal charges.
Rahim Singh is facing two murder charges. He is accused of murdering a Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chatrapati who had been writing about the Dera’s activities. Chatrapati was shot on October 24, 2001 and died on November 21. He was also accused of allegedly killing sect manager Ranjit Singh in July 2002.