Four women and an 18-month-old baby have died at controversial guru Rampal’s ashram in Haryana’s Hisar, where thousands of his followers clashed with the police on Tuesday and used acid, bombs and gunfire to try and stop his arrest in connection with a murder case. While The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday evening decided to send in paramilitary forces tackle the poor law and order condition in Hisar following clashes between self-styled godman Rampal’s supporters and the police.
“The Central government is sending about 500 paramilitary personnel to Haryana to deal with law and order situation at ‘godman’ Rampal’s ashram,” said a Home Ministry official.
Central intelligence agencies had inputs of a possible law and order situation in Hisar and the same had been passed on to the Haryana government, said sources. It was also being said that the Central government was unhappy with the way the state government had handled the matter.
Till now, the police have arrested 425 people from the ashram but are still searching for 63-year-old Rampal, an engineer-turned-guru, who has now been charged with sedition. He is believed to be inside with around 5,000 supporters.
Meanwhile, Rampal’s brother Purshottam Das has been taken into custody by the Haryana Police while he was trying to flee from the ashram. Rampal, however, is still in hiding. Though the police is claiming that they are sure that the self-styled godman is in the ashram itself.
DGP Haryana Shrinivas Vashisht said there were no marks of injuries on the bodies of those who died and claimed that “not even a single person has been injured by police bullets in Hisar. Post-mortem is being held to ascertain the cause of the deaths, he said.
Meanwhile, Rampal continues to defy court orders to surrender before the police in the contempt case against him. He is even being protected by his supporters who are ready to make a human shield to save him.
The High Court has ordered Rampal’s arrest by Friday after he repeatedly ignored their summons to appear for questioning in a 2006 case involving the killing of a villager by his supporters.
The self-styled Godman has been hiding in the ashram for nearly two weeks using women and children as shields. Devotees who call themselves ‘Baba’s Commandos’ are armed with guns, acid pouches and petrol bombs, the police say.
Over 14,000 people who had come from various states for what they were told would be a week-long ‘Satsang’ or religious discourse are believed to have left the ashram since last night. Many of them say they were imprisoned by the baba’s followers.