The followers protecting self-styled godman Rampal from the law have declined the police offer of safe passage in return for a peaceful withdrawal from the fortified Satlok Ashram here. They have warned the police of severe consequences, if the force tried to storm the dera.
“If the police even touch the ashram property, they’ll be responsible for what happens next,” ashram spokesman Master Balwan Singh said here on Monday.
In the afternoon, Hisar deputy commissioner ML Kaushik had asked the followers of Rampal to vacate the ashram so that the state government could take it over to be able to take Rampal to the Punjab and Haryana high court to execute the non-bailable arrest warrant.
After the announcement, the police moved more men closer to the ashram and towed away nearly 200 vehicles, including buses and tankers, that belonged to the protesters. The people standing guard at the ashram did not resist but some of the followers protesting outside threatened to immolate self. Putting diesel on their bodies, some youth charged at the police contingent marching in but some elders from the ashram made them retreat. “This will be our first gift to the government, if the police enter our ashram,” said a follower in a black commando uniform. Virender Dass, son of Rampal Dass, said the followers would sacrifice their lives but not budge. Wielding sticks, the people dressed as commandos did a march past in reply to police flag march that had been ordered to build pressure on them.
Denying that Rampal had been moved to a private hospital, Hisar deputy commissioner ML Kaushik said he was “1000% sure” that he was still holed up inside his ashram and the rumours about transfer were just to mislead the police.
The entire property of Rampal has been attached and his bank accounts seized, so now he can’t make any sale/purchase. “We will dig him out but without harming women and children as far as possible,” said the DC.
Special unit ready
Sources in the Haryana police said their 11 commandos trained for offensive operations will move into the ashram first, if need be. Carrying latest weapons, the men in black are on the spot. Their task is to clear the human shield of women and children and arrest Rampal.
The police have announced that the ashram followers who will come out peacefully will be provided with transport to reach the railway station and bus stand. “If they face any problem, they can contact the Barwala police at 01693-242031 or the station house officer (SHO) concerned on his mobile-phone number 88140-11312,” deputy commissioner ML Kaushik has said.