Its pressure tactics notwithstanding, the Haryana government till Sunday evening failed to arrest Rampal Dass, the self-styled godman whose arrest has been sought by the Punjab and Haryana high court on November 17 in contempt of court proceedings.
The court had twice issued non-bailable warrants of arrest against Rampal. Given the current scenario, he is unlikely to appear before the high court in Chandigarh on Monday.
His followers have now have suggested video conferencing as a way to present him before the court.
A huge posse of Haryana cops and central paramilitary forces were deployed just a stone's throw from the Satlok Ashram precincts on the Barwala-Tohana road to pressurise the Ashram in handing over the custody of the godman. However, by the evening, companies of the Haryana police, paramilitary forces, including the Central Reserve Police Force and the Rapid Action Force, were seen marching back to their camps from Barwala.
Sources said the state government has decided not to use force to penetrate inside ashram to 'smoke out' Rampal.
The large gathering of women and children who have formed a human shield seems to be a cause of worry for the state authorities as the use of force to enter the ashram could mean human casualties.
Hisar deputy commissioner ML Kaushik said a dialogue was on with ashram followers to break the deadlock. He, however, remained non-committal on whether Rampal would surrender or the police would arrest him from his ashram. Hisar range inspector general of police (IGP) Anil Kumar Rao said they were positive that the police would be able to produce Rampal in the high court on Monday. He said the police force will maintain guard on their positions.
In another development, powerful khaps of Haryana intervened and held talks with ashram followers to break the deadlock. Shamsher Kharkara, head of Meham khap, who unsuccessfully contested the assembly polls on the BJP ticket, met Rampal's son Virender in a private vehicle. Shamsher belongs to Kharkara village of Rohtak district, from where Rampal's wife hails. Another khap leader, Balraj Kundu from the Kundu khap, was allowed to enter inside the ashram to meet an 'ailing' Rampal who has been refusing to appear before the court on health grounds.
A delegation of Satlok ashram held several rounds of discussion with government officials to reach a consensus. Raj Kapoor, ashram spokesperson, said: "Santji has never evaded court and is ready to appear in court hearing through video conferencing facility from inside ashram owing to his ill health."
The HC had first on November 5 and then on November 10 issued non-bailable warrants (NBWs) of arrest against Rampal for intentionally disobeying court directions to face contempt proceedings initiated by the court on its own motion. The HC made it clear that the Haryana director general of police (DGP) and the home secretary will be present in court on November 17 morning in the event of non-execution of non-bailable warrant issued against Rampal.
Earlier, a notice for contempt of court (criminal) was issued to Rampal and Ram Kumar Dhaka, president of National Social Service Committee, an offshoot of Satlok Ashram, after receiving reports from Hisar and Rohtak sessions judges regarding holding of assembly and demonstration by ashram followers during the hearing of cases against the ashram head and allegedly misbehaving with lawyers, thus trying to subvert the process of law and interfere in judicial proceedings.
What happened on Sunday
Haryana police tightened security at barriers set up on both sides of Satlok Ashram on Hisar-Chandigarh road
Central Reserve Force joins the state police at barriers
Anti riot vehicles, armoured vehicle, cranes, Haryana police commandos marched towards ashram but held back a short distance away
Satlok spokesperson Raj Kapoor leaves for conducting a meeting with government
BJP leaders Tohana MLA Subhash Barala, party Barwala leader Surender Punia reached at Satlok ashram to hold talks
Additional force marches back to barracks.