With the November 10 deadline to produce controversial godman Rampal in the Punjab and Haryana high court nearing, his devotees took an aggressive stand on Saturday and surrounded the 12-acre Barwala ashram by making a human chain to thwart his forcible arrest.
Satlok Ashram, 5km from Barwala town of Hisar district, turned into a fortress, guarded by youths who were armed with guns and bamboo sticks.
Though Saturday was the second day of the satsang called by Rampal on Friday, scores of ashram buses were seen on roads, ready to pick more devotees from nearby locations.
The first ring of human chain comprised youths aged 20-25 who were holding batons and dressed like Black Cat commandos, while the second line of defence had experienced men holding Walkie-Talkies to regulate the force.
Enquiring the purpose of the HT team’s visit, a man in his 30s introduced himself as a National Security Guard-trained commando and said he had devoted himself to the godman. He claimed that they had with them several commandos who had got training from NSG, SPG and Haryana police and they would thwart any forcible attempt of the administration to arrest Rampal.
Youngsters were seen standing on the ashram roof to keep watch on all directions from a vantage point and to pass on the first-hand information to seniors standing inside the ashram complex. A loudspeaker exhorted the guards to be ready to make sacrifice for their godman and fight against ‘injustice’.
Civil hospital team examines Rampal
A civil hospital team led by Hisar chief medical officer Dr Dayanand, deputy CMO Ashok Chaudhary and Dr Naresh Satsangi left for ashram check the health of Rampal.
Sources said it was a move of the Hisar district administration to verify the claim of Rampal’s supporters about his poor health.
35 more companies requisitioned
Hisar superintendent of police Satender Gupta told mediapersons that to comply with the high court orders and after assessing the ground situation, they have requisitioned 35 more companies of police and paramilitary force. He said 25 companies of the Haryana Police and 10 companies of paramilitary forces have been called.
DC assures of peaceful solution
Talking to HT, Hisar deputy commissioner ML Kaushik said they were confident that a peaceful solution would be worked out to end the deadlock.
On being asked about complying with the court order in toto, he said they have a solution in their sight, in which the court order would be honoured and Rampal’s devotees who had gathering in and around the ashram would also be dispersed peacefully.