‘Godman’ Rampal was headed for deeper trouble on Thursday with Punjab and Haryana High Court cancelling his bail in a murder case and sending him to jail as police slapped charges of murder and violence over the death of six people in his ashram during the standoff that ended on Wednesday.
Arrested on Wednesday night, he was produced before a two-member bench of the High Court which had set a deadline of Friday for his production in connection with a contempt case at 2 PM. He was sent to judicial custody till November 28, the next date of hearing.
Claiming success of the operation, Haryana Police booked Rampal on murder charge, formed an SIT, carried out 469 arrests that includes three persons from Nepal.
The 63-year-old Rampal, who had failed to appear on three earlier occasions citing “ill-health”, was this morning taken for a medical test at a government hospital in Panchkula and all his health parameters were found to be “stable”.
During the morning hearing, the bench comprising Justices M Jeyapaul and Darshan cancelled his bail in connection with a case of murder registered in 2006 after a clash at his Ashram at Kainthola in Rohtak district where one person had died and some others were injured.
A day after the operation to flush him out from his 12-acre ashram in Barwala in Hisar district of Haryana, DGP S N Vashisht told a press conference here that two new cases have been registered against Rampal in connection with the death of five women and an infant in his ashram and the violence on Tuesday.
The post-mortem report revealed internal injuries but the exact cause of death will come out only forensic and chemical examination.
The ashram has now been completely cleared of Rampal’s supporters and special police teams were conducting intense searches in the premises from where “private army” of the ‘godman’ used firearms and petrol bombs against the police.
A total of 105 policemen were injured in the violence. Two received bullet injuries, one of whom is in serious condition, having received gun shot in the neck. Seven other policemen received splinter injuries.
469 people, including a close aide of Rampal and his daughter, have been arrested, Vashisht said while commending the extreme restraint shown by his force even in the face of grave provocation when they were fired at from the ashram.
The whole effort was to avoid innocent casualties, he said.
Rampal, who was not obeying the HC directives for appearance before it, was arrested from his ashram in Barwala in Haryana’s Hisar district last night after over two weeks of standoff between police and his supporters, who posed stiff resistance and even resorted to violence on Tuesday.
The bench posted the matter to November 28 with a direction to Haryana Police chief to file an affidavit giving details of the operation carried out to arrest Rampal from his ashram in Barwala in Haryana’s Hisar district along with damage, injuries to people, regarding arms and ammunition in the Ashram and loss of property.
Later, Rampal was taken to Hisar in connection with the fresh case relating to various charges including sedition, arson, rioting, attempt to murder, preventing government servants from performing duty registered against him and others.
To a question at the press conference, Vashisht said if during the course of investigations any Maoist link to Rampal is found, it will be thoroughly probed.
“So far 469 people have been arrested while more people are being questioned. Out of the total arrests made, 118 belong to Rajasthan, 116 from Haryana, 72 from Madhya Pradesh, 10 from Bihar, 83 from UP and three from Nepal,” he said.
“We have also arrested Rampal’s key aide Baljeet. Baljeet’s daughter Babita too has been arrested and from her one laptop, six mobile phones, ten hard disks, seventeen CDs, three telephone diaries and five files have been recovered.
One special team, which would include cyber experts, will scan all these equipment and whatever information we get during the course of the investigation will shared with you (made public),” DGP said.
He said that another key aide Ram Kunwar Dhaka too has been arrested while Rampal’s brother and key functionary Purshottam Dass and others were nabbed earlier.
DGP said that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Hisar SP has been formed to probe certain cases, especially those like in the recovery of articles like laptop, mobile phones, hard disks and other items recovered from the arrested accused.
“In a way, real investigation has begun now. Earlier, it was our priority to take out innocent people holed up inside the ashram safely and also to arrest Rampal. If it will come to fore that any Maoist angle is involved, we will fully investigate it,” the DGP said when asked if any Maoist link to the controversial Ashram head, had been found.
In its order, the HC bench asked the Haryana DGP to file a comprehensive affidavit by November 28 giving complete details about the operation carried out by police for arresting Rampal from his ashram located at Hisar.
“The affidavit shall reflect resistance put up, casualties suffered, injuries sustained, recovery of arms and ammunition from ashram and all relevant facts relating to the operation and recovery of arms and ammunition from the ashram,” said senior advocate Anupam Gupta, who is the amicus curiae.
The court directed the Haryana Chief Secretary to submit a report regarding properties owned by godman Rampal, he said.
The division bench asked the amicus curiae to address it as regards to proper place where the trial of murder case against Rampal and others could be conducted.
At present, Rampal and 37 others was being tried in a 2006 murder case in a session court of Rohtak.
The HC expressed serious concern over existence of ‘deras’ (religious places) in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh where arms and ammunitions are used illegally.
Gupta said, “I shall also be submitting before the court on the next day of hearing that if similar or such cases or situations involve the use of arms and ammunitions by the heads of religious places and problems posed by them required to be addressed by the High Court.”
The HC also asked the police to submit details about expenditure incurred in the operation carried out to arrest Rampal.
Appearing on behalf of Rampal, senior lawyer S K Garg Nirwana said that Rampal was actually “in captivity within in the ashram… I will reveal at relevant time. He is not above the law.”
The other two contemnors Ram Kunwar Dhaka and O P Hooda have also been directed to be produced on November 28.
A large number of security personnel had been deployed around the High Court complex.
Rampal, who was later produced before a court in Hisar, was remanded to police custody for five days in connection with several cases which have been registered against him in the wake of the standoff at his Satlok Ashram.