Self-styled ‘godman’ Baba Rampal was tonight arrested from his ashram, ending an over two-week tense standoff between his supporters and the police after close to 15,000 of his followers were evacuated from the sprawling premises.
The controversial 63-year-old baba will produced in a Hisar court tomorrow, Superintendent of Police, Panipat Satish Balan told reporters.
Police arrested Baba Rampal from Satlok Ashram where four women died mysteriously and two others in hospital in the midst of a showdown.
Simultaneously, many followers including women with children stuck inside trooped out, many of them complaining that they were forcibly kept inside the ashram with its gates kept locked.
Haryana Police slapped fresh cases, including the serious charge of sedition, against Rampal who will be produced in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday, the deadline set by the court.
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 them to judicial custody till December 3.
Those arrested, include son of Rampal and chief volunteer Purushottam Dass, a cousin of the ‘godman’.
Unlike yesterday, 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. The Centre had also despatched 500 CRPF personnel to help the operations.
Earlier, the Centre appeared to be unhappy over the way the issue was being handled. Union Minister Rajnath Singh is understood to have told Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar to end the standoff quickly.
“The state government is proceeding carefully and cautiously to arrest Sant Rampal,” Khattar said later.
While the clashes yesterday left over 200 injured, police today announced that bodies of four women were handed over to them by the ashram staff. Another woman and a one-and-a-half year old baby were taken in serious condition to a hospital where they died.
It was not clear what caused their death. State police chief S N Vashisht said there were no external injuries and only a post-mortem will reveal the real reason of death.
Autopsy reports of 3 mention ‘no injury mark’
Authorities were handed over the autopsy reports of three out of four women who died under mysterious circumstances and two others in hospital in the midst of a showdown between police and the supporters of self-styled ‘godman’ Rampal at his Satlok Ashram in Hisar.
Police said that according to the preliminary post-mortem report of three bodies, which were handed over by the Ashram authorities, “no injury mark has been found on the bodies.” Post-mortem of other two bodies is on, they added.
Rampal supporters’ demo at Jantar Mantar
Scores of supporters of self-styled godman Rampal today staged a demonstration here demanding withdrawal of police from outside his ashram in Hisar claiming the allegations against him are false.
The protesters also claimed Rampal was “unwell” and was being treated at an “undisclosed location”.
Police barricaded the entire stretch where around 1000 protesters were staging the demonstration at Jantar Mantar.
“The police atrocities at the ashram in Hisar should be stopped and police withdrawn. The allegations against Rampal are false and the warrants issued against him should be revoked,” said a protester.
Earlier in the afternoon, several persons, including security and media personnel, were injured as clashes erupted at the Hisar ashram of Rampal with police lobbing teargas shells and using batons to disperse his supporters who allegedly fired back.
The protesters at Jantar Mantar saw the visuals of the police action in Hisar on tablets and their smartphones and condemned the police “atrocities”.
“The police atrocities on our people should be stopped at once and they should be withdrawn,” he said.