Satlok Ashram mellows down but standoff continues

  • Sat Singh, Hindustan Times, Barwala (Hisar)
  • Updated: Nov 08, 2014 19:44 IST

After striking a defiant pose against the Punjab and Haryana high court orders on non-bailable warrants (NBWs) against head of Satlok Ashram, Rampal, the management committee mellowed down a bit on Friday but did not give any indication of “giving up the fight”.

A spokesperson of Satlok Ashram, Rahul Dass told Hindustan Times that they do not intend to insult court orders as the ashram head has always adhered to court’s decision in the past in cases registered against him.

He said they want the court to understand that the godman was not keeping well and he would make himself available whenever and where ever the court directs him to once he recovers fully.

On Friday, a Hindustan Times team during a visit to the controversial head’s Barwala-based ashram, spread over 12 acres of agriculture land and 5km from Hisar’s Barwala town, saw thousands of devotees in the ashram.

Male devotees were seen standing guard, holding bamboo sticks with ashram flags atop outside, while several gun-toting youths had positioned themselves on the two sides of the ashram.

While Rashtriya Samaj Sewa Samiti, which had issued a press release that it would oppose police efforts on Rampal’s arrest, did not utter a word on Friday, the Hisar district administration expressed hope that a solution would be worked out to end the standoff.

Talking to the media, Vikas Dass, a key member of the Satlok committee, said there were at least 50,000 devotees, including women and children, inside the ashram to attend the three-day congregation, who would eat, sleep and stay there till Sunday.

On being asked the reason behind calling a big gathering, he defended that it was a scheduled congregation and had got nothing to do with the ongoing tussle over the non-bailable warrants against Rampal.

Deputy commissioner (DC) ML Kaushik said they held several rounds of dialogues with a delegation of the samiti over avoiding any untoward situation in the wake of the court’s order to arrest Rampal till Monday.

“We are in the process to ending the standoff and a positive outcome is expected as some senior officials from Chandigarh had held talks with the samiti delegation,” he added.

However, Hisar range inspector general of police (IGP) Hanif Qureshi said the Punjab and Haryana high court order would be complied with in toto and they were ready to deal with any situation.

On being pointed out that a large number of followers in the ashram could prevent Rampal’s arrest, he said they would not hesitate in complying with the directions by removing blockades of any kind.

Sources said Rampal’s supporters were mulling to knock doors of the Supreme Court to seek bail for Rampal and his aide Ram Kumar Dhaka, head of Rashtriya Samaj Sewa Samiti.

Human shield a cause of concern for haryana govt

The manner in which a human shield comprising women and elderly was being planned around Rampal to thwart his arrest seems to be a cause of grave concern for the government.

Top Haryana officials on Friday held discussions with the representatives of Satlok Ashram in Chandigarh to resolve the standoff. It was conveyed to the ashram representatives in plain terms, officials said, that they should co-operate with the authorities to avoid any conflict. The state authorities also told the ashram representatives not to pitchfork innocent devotees in the way of enforcement of law.

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