Clashes erupted at the ashram of controversial ‘godman’ Rampal in Haryana on Tuesday with police lobbing teargas shells and using lathicharge to disperse his supporters who allegedly fired back.
Meanwhile, police said that at-least 50 persons including 20 media personnel, 15 cops and as many followers of Rampal had been injured as violence erupted on Tuesday .
Police said that they were still firing tear gas shells to disperse the followers, but they had to deal with the tough situation as “petrol bombs” were being thrown in from inside the Ashram.
The stand-off of several days between the authorities and Rampal’s supporters took a violent turn as the Haryana government was racing against time to get hold of the ‘godman’ to meet the deadline of Friday set by Punjab and Haryana High Court for producing him in a contempt case.
As security personnel including police and para-military forces stepped up efforts to disperse the followers, said to be in thousands inside the Ashram, they faced stiff resistance.
A senior police official said supporters of the ‘godman’ were firing from inside the ashram but police was exercising maximum possible restraint to minimise casualties.
Authorities continued to face an uphill task in dispersing ‘godman’ Rampal’s followers from the Ashram.
The 63-year-old ‘godman’ was to appear before the High Court on Monday but he did not do so, with his counsel saying he was “unwell” and could not travel from Barwala to Chandigarh, a distance of about 270 kms. He wanted more time for his production.
The High Court then issued a fresh non-bailable warrant against him and asked the authorities to present him on Friday.
This morning, some disciples who managed to come out from the ashram claimed that “thousands” of people were inside the premises and a vast majority of them wanted to leave immediately but were being prevented by lathi-wielding supporters of the ‘godman’.
Hisar SP Satender Kumar Gupta said the police and civil administration was assisting those followers who wish to go home.
The authorities were treading with caution, wary of the possibility of a violent backlash by the followers, who were still present in large numbers inside the ashram and might be carrying lathis, sharp edged weapons and even crude bombs.
There is an army of armed private commandos of the ‘godman’ inside the Ashram, officials said.
Hisar District Magistrate M L Kaushik in an order on Monday asked all the followers, including women and children, to disperse immediately.
HC reserves judgement on bail cancellation of Rampal
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday reserved its judgement on the cancellation of bail of controversial ‘godman’ Rampal in connection with a murder case registered against him in 2006.
A division bench of the court had suo moto taken up the issue of cancellation of bail on November 10 when Rampal failed to appear in a contempt case.
The bench comprising justices M Jeyapaul and Darshan Singh reserved the judgement after hearing the defence, the state and amicus curiae.
Rampal is on bail in connection with a case of murder registered in 2006 after a clash at his ashram at Kainthola in Rohtak district. Rampal faces charges of conspiracy in connection with the 2006 incident.
The self-styled ‘godman’ has failed to appear before the high court on three dates – November 5, November 10 and November 17.