Haryana’s top court rapped the state government on Monday for failing to arrest a controversial sect leader hiding at his ashram, protected by a ring of armed followers and scores of women and children.
Self-styled godman Rampal, who has skipped court hearings over 40 times since 2010, did not appear before the Punjab and Haryana high court again in a contempt case while his lawyer said he was unwell.
The 63-year-old is out on bail in a 2006 case when his supporters opened fire on some villagers, killing one person and injuring several others in Rohtak.
Instructing the Haryana government to produce Rampal by Friday, the court issued fresh non-bailable warrants against the accused. “We don’t buy arguments that he is not well. The state government’s inability to arrest him will allow even small-time criminals to defy the law,” the court said.
Ashram spokesperson Raj Kapoor said Rampal had been moved to a hospital at an undisclosed location for treatment.
“We were facing problems in treating him as the administration had stopped all supplies, including of medicines, to the ashram,” he said, refusing to reveal Rampal’s whereabouts.
Haryana advocate general BR Mahajan, however, denied this in court.
The state government told the court that since a number of women and children were present at the Satlok Ashram in Barwala, police and the administration were approaching the situation cautiously.
The district administration asked the sect leader’s supporters to disperse immediately, saying they would provide buses to transport the followers to the nearby bus stand and the railway station. It also started removing vehicles of the supporters parked outside the ashram.