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Tense situation prevails around controversial godman Rampal’s ashram

Tension on Sunday prevailed around the Satlok Ashram of self-styled godman Rampal even as authorities treaded with caution to avert any violent backlash from supporters of the controversial godman facing arrest in a contempt of court case.

As authorities raced against time to meet the Monday deadline set by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to ensure his appearance, the situation remained volatile around the ashram, which has been surrounded by police and paramilitary forces and all roads leading to the premises sealed, officials said.

Several disciples of the controversial godman are still holed-up in the Ashram to prevent his arrest in a contempt of court case.

A police official said additional police force has been deployed in this town yesterday to bring out Rampal, who is being protected by a strong human shield formed by his followers including women, some of whom are believed to be carrying lethal weapons.

Official sources said that authorities were trying to persuade Rampal to surrender on his own as this may help avert any incident of violence once he gives up at his own will.

However, plans to storm the Ashram and use of force to comply with the court orders, have been kept ready, the sources said.

Five Superintendents of Police Hisar, Bhiwani, Sirsa, Jind and Fatehabad are among the senior police officials present here to ensure that the court orders are executed.

Yesterday, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had appealed to Rampal to present himself in the court “in a peaceful manner” and “without any hindrance”, saying, “one must give utmost priority to uphold the dignity of judicial system.”

“In a democratic set up, one must give utmost priority to uphold the dignity of judicial system,” Khattar had said.

Hisar Range Inspector General of Police, A K Rao, who is camping at the site here, has urged Rampal’s followers to cooperate with police and comply with the court orders.

Rejecting the state government’s plea that Rampal was unwell and his arrest would create law and order problems, Punjab and Haryana High Court had on Monday last issued a fresh non-bailable arrest warrant against him in a contempt case and asked why his bail in a 2006 murder case should not be cancelled.

Holding that the state government lacked willingness to arrest the godman and no sincere efforts were made to produce him before it, the HC directed the Haryana Director General of Police and the Home Secretary to ensure that Rampal appears in person before it.

Rampal 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.

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