On the third day of search, the special investigation team (SIT) seized 9 rifles and as many cartridges from Satlok Ashram of Hisar sect leader Rampal at Barwala.
Led by Hisar superintendent of police Satender Kumar Gupta, the team also brought Rampal, who was arrested last Wednesday night, back to the sprawling ashram for identifying his “commandos” and opening the e-swipe safes. Sources said the police had found all chests empty.
Shortly after reaching the ashram, Rampal complained of uneasiness. After medication at the Barwals civil hospital, he was taken to the civil lines police station for further investigation.
Five “commandos” of his protection team were also taken to the ashram, where the police seized two air guns and caught another man dressed as “commando” during the identification parade. Ramesh Kumar of Petwar in Hisar; Siddharth of Sector 15, Hisar; Ravinder Kumar of Sundana in Rohtak; and Dharmender of Karontha in Rohtak are four of these men.
A 0.12-bore gun and five cartridges were seized from Rampal’s followers Vijender and Ram Avtar of Hisar. Rampal is in police custody for five days to aid the police search for the arms and ammunition that his “force” used against them to prevent his arrest after he had declined to surrender and appear before the Punjab and Haryana high court.
Rampal, who was arrested after a stand-off of about 10 days and violent clashes between his supporters and the security forces, is in police custody on court orders. This is the first time he was brought back to his 12-acre ashram in Hisar district, 210 kilometres from Chandigarh, since his arrest.
The police said the SIT, which is searching the ashram since Thursday, needed his help to uncover the secrets of the complex, including its huge lockers. During the search of one of the warehouses on Sunday, the police seized hundreds of sticks with which Rampal supporters had resisted the police for more than a week.
Rampal faces charges of murder, attempt to murder, sedition, rioting, illegal detention and other offences. Five women and an infant, died in the standoff between his followers and the security forces last week.