After law failed to get self-styled godman Rampal Dass out of his Satlok Ashram under siege, the influential khaps of Haryana have intervened to speak with his followers and break the deadlock.
Shamsher Kharkara, Meham khap head who lost in the assembly elections on the Bharatiya Janta Party ticket, on Sunday sat with Rampal's son, Virender, in a private vehicle. Shamsher is from Rohtak's Kharkara village, where Rampal is married. Balraj Kundu of Kundu Khap was the first outsider allowed inside Satlok Ashram to meet an "ailing" Rampal who refuses to appear before the court for health reasons.
A delegation from the ashram had several rounds of talks with the government officers to reach a consensus. Ashram spokesman Raj Kapoor said: "Santji has never avoided court and is ready to appear through videoconferencing, since he is ill."
Several additional companies of Haryana Police, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), and Rapid Action Force (RAF) were seen marching back to the barracks from Barwala. Sources said the government had decided not to use force to enter the ashram. The huge number of women and children inside has made it exercise caution.
Hisar deputy commissioner ML Kaushik hoped the talks with Satlok Ashram were in progress, and could not say whether Rampal would surrender or the police would arrest him. Hisar inspector general of police Anil Kumar Rao said the police were confident that they would be able to produce Rampal in the Punjab and Haryana high court in time on Monday. "The force stands its positions," he said.
Govt opens multiple channels of talks
The state government has opened multiple channels of talks with Satlok Ashram. It has made khap leaders and cabinet-rank ministers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) camp in Hisar to see if they can persuade Rampal to surrender without there being any causality.
Followers seek CBI probe into 2006 Karontha clash
The followers of Rampal have demanded that the 2006 Karontha murder case against him be moved to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Ashram spokesman Master Balwan Singh told the media that the case had been lodged at the behest of the-then chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda; and the CBI would find him innocent in the Karontha (Rohtak) clash with the Arya Samajis. He said Rampal was justified in challenging the Arya Samaj beliefs and sacred book Satyarth Prakash.