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Rampal slapped with murder charges

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By EMN Updated: Nov 20, 2014 11:15 pm
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Agencies
HISAR, NOVEMBER 20

A day after his arrest, charges of murder was slapped against controversial cult leader Rampal and others in connection with the deaths of five women followers and an infant.
Earlier on Thursday, Rampal was produced before the Punjab and Haryana high court in a contempt of court case and sent to judicial custody.Rampal was produced before the division bench of justice M Jeyapaul and justice Darshan Singh at 2pm after the police informed the court in the morning that the non-bailable warrant has been executed with his arrest.
The two-judge bench posted the matter to November 28 and directed the Haryana police chief to file an affidavit giving details of the operation carried out to arrest Rampal from his Barwala ashram in Haryana’s Hisar district. It also sought information regarding damages, injuries to people, arms and ammunition in the ashram and loss of property.
Expressing concern over the armed standoff, the court also called for checks on whether other deras and ashrams in the state were storing arms.
Inside the court, Rampal remained silent as his lawyers described him as a ‘simple agriculturist’ who was held captive inside the Hisar ashram.
Earlier, rejecting charges that he had used thousands of his followers as human shields, he said they were false.
“I am innocent, the allegations against me are false. I never used women and children as hostages,” he told reporters while being taken after to the Panchkula police station lockup.
Further asked about claims of his followers that they had been kept hostage by his private armed commandos and other henchmen, Rampal in his first reaction after his arrest, said, “No, this is not true….”
The medical examination of Rampal was conducted at the Government General Hospital at Panchkula, with a doctor describing his major health parameters as “stable”.
Rampal had been evading his appearance in the case before the HC, which issued a direction to police to produce him by Friday.
Forced to keep the date, police arrested him on Wednesday night from his ashram after two days of bloody standoff with his supporters, who posed stiff resistance and even resorted to violence.
The 63-year-old controversial godman had failed to appear on November 5 in the 2006 murder case after which a non-bailable warrant to be executed by November 10 was issued by the high court in the contempt case.
Haryana police failed to produce Rampal on November 10 as well as on the next date of November 17 after which the high court slammed the police and issued a third non-bailable warrant with directions to produce the self proclaimed godman on November 21.
Earlier, the contempt case was listed for Friday, but after the police informed the court about the arrest of Rampal, it directed his production at 2pm on Thursday.

Police search Rampal’s ashram, more followers flushed out

PTI
BARWALA, NOVEMBER 20

A day after his arrest, security personnel today carried out searches at the ashram of self styled ‘godman’ Rampal even as more followers were flushed out from the premises.
Security personnel made their way inside the Satlok Ashram, whose main gate was opened in the afternoon.
Police said that they would conduct a thorough search of the premises.
Early this morning, the authorities appealed to the followers still inside the Ashram to come out telling them that the police and civil administration was out there to help them.
Police said that they suspect some staunch supporters and members of his private commandos were still inside.
Police and para-military forces involved in the operation have been appealing to the followers who are still inside the ashram to come out without any fear, but some were still apprehensive.
Before launching full-scale operation to search Ashram for objectionable items, including arms and ammunition, police said they want to ensure that all innocent followers have come out so as to isolate any of the commandos or other accused who may be still hiding inside.
63-year-old Rampal, who had refused to appear before the High Court in a contempt case claiming he was unwell, was arrested last night from his Satlok Ashram after a two-week long stand off.
Many followers, who came out of the Ashram, told security personnel and the mediapersons that some private commandos of Rampal had been telling them for the past few days that if they venture out of the complex they will be harmed and arrested by the police.
“They created fear and used pressure tactics to hold us back. They kept telling us that as soon as we venture out we will be arrested and put to harm,” Indu, a middle-aged woman follower from Madhya Pradesh, told reporters.
Like her, many other followers, holed up inside the Ashram for several days, had harrowing tales to narrate.
“If you go out, police will shoot you, they think you are criminals,” a young follower from Uttar Pradesh, said, giving detail how coercive tactics were used to force them to stay back.
Hundreds of followers who had been inside the Ashram came from poor economic and educational background and even from far off places like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, a volunteer who had been providing food and water to those coming out, claimed.
Police had earlier registered cases against Rampal, including that of sedition against him and several of his followers, including key aides.
The sprawling Ashram is spread over 12 acres of land, police said, adding they suspect that there may be arms and other ammunition inside, some of which was used to target the security personnel on Tuesday.
During the siege, four women died under mysterious circumstances while a young woman who was taken to hospital at Hisar in a serious condition also died. An infant was also declared dead by the hospital after being taken there yesterday.
Many of the followers who came out early today said there were still many who were inside.
After coming out, the police took them straight to railway station and bus stands in the vehicles arranged by the government.
Haryana Police and para-military forces kept surrounding the premises and were keeping a vigil so that any accused person who may be hiding inside does not escape.

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By EMN Updated: Nov 20, 2014 11:15:37 pm