Rampal faces murder charges, in judicial custody

  • HT Correspondent and Agencies, Hisar
  • Updated: Nov 20, 2014 20:18 IST

A day after his arrest, charges of murder were 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.

Rampal in a lock up in Panchkula police station on Thursday morning hours before his appearance in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. (HT photo)

Ashram to be searched

Security personnel carried out searches at Rampal's ashram on Thursday even as more followers were flushed out from the premises.

They made their way inside the Satlok Ashram, whose main gate was opened in the afternoon and police said that they would conduct a thorough search of the premises.

Early on Thursday morning, the authorities appealed to the followers, who were still inside the ashram, to come out and assured them the police and civil administration was out there to help them.

Police say they suspect staunch supporters and members of his 'private army' were still inside.

Watch: Thank you for cancelling my bail: Rampal

Before launching a full-scale operation to search ashram for objectionable items, including arms and ammunition, police said they want to ensure that no innocent followers is harmed.

Hundreds of followers who had been inside the ashram come from poor economic and educational background and 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.

Followers who came out on Thursday said there were still many who were inside.

Haryana police and para-military forces are keeping an eye on the premises so that any accused person hiding inside does not escape.

(Inputs from Agencies, Pictures by Sat Singh)

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