The controversy over Karontha's Satlok Ashram that triggered violent clashes on Sunday could have been averted had the Rohtak administration not soft-pedalled the case of "sealing" the ashram under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) provisions in 2006.
What the district administration did on Tuesday was a virtual repeat of 2006 action when it had taken the control of the ashram property under the CrPc provisions in the aftermath of violent clashes citing breach of peace.
After violent clashes broke out between the followers of Arya Samaj and Satlok ashram head Rampal Dass in 2006, in which a youth was killed, the district administration invoked Section 145 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), thereby taking control of the ashram.
The order under section 145 (1) was passed by Rohtak sub divisional magistrate (SDM) and a Calendra (a document used for non cognizable offences) was prepared and submitted before the Rohtak SDM. When the Calendra came up for hearing before the Sub Divisional Officer (J), Rohtak, on June 5, 2008, none of the parties appeared. Therefore, the case was dismissed in default and the file was consigned to records.
Counsel for the Ashram contended before the Punjab and Haryana High Court that "thereafter none of the parties have approached the Sub Divisional Officer (J), Rohtak, for restoration of the case. The possession therefore after the passing of the June 5, 2008 order needs to be handed back to the Trust which is managing the Ashram,'' the HC said in its order.
Counsel for the state also submitted before the HC that the state government had no objection to the handing over of the possession of the Ashram. The counsel of Ashram claimed possession of Ashram back to Rampal primarily on the grounds that Satlok management was cleared of all charges. Things became all the more easy when state counsel did not object to handing back of possession.
"Had the state government opposed the prayer of the Satlok management in the high court in 2009, the violent situation would not have erupted," a senior official in the administration, on the condition of anonymity, said. He said the administration had apprehended violent clashes if Rampal got the possession of the ashram, located in the strong hold of Arya Samaj followers.
Stay on notice
In 2009, the high court issued a contempt notice to the-then Rohtak superintendent of police (SP) AK Rao for not implementing its order regarding the possession of the ashram.
The SP got relief when the Supreme Court put a stay notice on the contempt notice this February and ruled that that status quo would be maintained on ashram's possession. The Arya Samaj Partinidhi Sabha had, in 2009, moved a petition in Supreme court against the high court orders. The petition was dismissed by the apex court.