Haryana Police arrested the self-styled ‘godman’ Rampal after he was traced to Satlok Ashram in Hisar on Wednesday night after a tense two-day operation. Rampal was found holed up in the ashram, along with some of his supporters. The controversial 63-year-old baba will produced in a Hisar court tomorrow, Superintendent of Police, Panipat Satish Balan told reporters.
According to media reports, the police clashed with Rampal’s followers as they attempted to stop the arrest. Rampal has been taken from the ashram in an ambulance.
Media reported that minutes before the arrest protesters from Barwala, located on the Hissar Ambala Highway, who were marching towards the Satlok Ashram of self-proclaimed “godman” Rampal were stopped by the security personnel deployed in strength. “There is a resentment simmering among people of Barwala town and nearby villages against Baba Rampal and they tried to move towards (the) Ashram,” police said. They said that the situation was “saved due to heavy deployment of (security) forces.”
Earlier in the evening, around 500 paramilitary personnel were rushed to Haryana to deal with law and order situation at Rampal’s ashram in Hisar even as the Intelligence Bureau has warned that there could be more violence if police attempt to arrest the ‘godman’. Responding to an urgent request of the Haryana government, the Home Ministry had dispatched the personnel to assist the state police which was facing violent resistance while trying to arrest Rampal. “We are mobilising the force from nearby areas and they will reach the spot soon,” a Home Ministry official had said.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered for Rampal to presented in court on Friday.
Authorities on Wednesday mounted pressure on Rampal as sedition and other serious charges were slapped against him and several of his followers while bodies of four women were found in the ashram here in Haryana, a day after clashes.
Police said 70 supporters of the Rampal, most of them his ‘private commandos’, who indulged in violence yesterday, were arrested and produced before the local court which sent to judicial custody till December 3. Those arrested, include son of Rampal and chief volunteer Purushottam Dass.
The Haryana police evacuated and rescued 15,000 supporters of ‘godman’ Baba Rampal from the Satlok ashram and arrested 425 people . According to Inspector General Anil Kumar, Rampal is still within the ashram campus and the police is in negotiation with him.
Unlike Tuesday, when the vicinity of the ashram in this town of Hisar district looked like a war-zone when police and Rampal’s supporters clashed, including small arm firing from inside, the situation was peaceful today. More than 10,000 followers, including aged men and women and children, who had been holed up inside the ashram for days, came out with raised hands, signalling peace. The desertion continued till late in the night.
By late evening, a large posse of CRPF personnel were brought to the periphery of the ashram spread over 12 acres, where Rampal is believed to be hiding with the support of his “private army”. The Centre also despatched 500 CRPF personnel to help the operations. “We are going step by step. We will take the final step soon,” a senior police officer said, making it clear that authorities are preparing for the final assault.
Rampal along with 38 accused was charged with murder and other offences under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on July 12, 2006 following a violent clash between his followers and another group in which one person died and several others were injured. He along along with 38 others was being tried in a sessions court of Rohtak. Rampal was granted bail by the High court on April 2, 2008 which has now been cancelled due to his absence during trials.
He has been charged with interfering in judicial proceedings during the hearing of a case in the Hisar sessions court. On July 15, his supporters had marched inside the district court complex in Hisar and tried to create trouble in the court proceedings. The Punjab and Haryana High Court took cognisance of the case and issued notices to Rampal and the state government. As he failed to appear before it, the court had issued non-bailable warrant against Rampal and asked the Haryana government to produce him and his aide Ram Kunwar Dhaka before it.
The disciples of the godman had said that he was unwell and they would not allow the police to arrest him till he recovers completely.