Highlights | Rampal case verdict: Self-styled godman acquitted in two criminal cases, to remain in jail | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Highlights | Rampal case verdict: Self-styled godman acquitted in two criminal cases, to remain in jail

Rampal will continue to be in prison as he is facing other cases, including of murder conspiracy, sedition and rioting. Rampal was arrested after a tense standoff between his supporters and the police after close to 15,000 of his followers were evacuated from the sprawling 12-acre Satlok ashram premises at Barwala in 2014.

punjab Updated: Aug 29, 2017 18:09 IST
HT Correspondents
The 66-year-old the head of Satlok Ashram in Barwala, who runs a sect housed in a sprawling 12-acre ashram in Barwala, first burst into prominence in the late 90s after touring Haryana as a bhajan singer.
The 66-year-old the head of Satlok Ashram in Barwala, who runs a sect housed in a sprawling 12-acre ashram in Barwala, first burst into prominence in the late 90s after touring Haryana as a bhajan singer.(PTI File Photo)

A Hisar court acquitted self-styled godman Rampal Dass on Tuesday in connection with two criminal cases registered against him, citing lack of evidence. The court in Hisar was hearing cases for alleged assault, obstructing a public servant, rioting and unlawful assembly, among others. These were two among several cases levelled against Rampal and his followers after the week-long stand-off in November 2014 that left six people dead.

Here are the highlights:

4: 05 pm: “The court has acquitted Rampal in both the cases,” said Rampal’s counsel A P Singh.

3:59 pm: Hisar judicial magistrate Mukesh Kumar pronounced the verdict, acquitting Rampal, head of Satlok Ashram.

3:30 pm: Rampal’s private army and aides had fought a pitched battle with the police in November 2014 to prevent his arrest.

3:20 pm: The verdict was announced at a makeshift court set up inside Hisar central jail, about 250 km from Chandigarh.

3: 12 pm: “We followed the Dera Sacha Sauda case closely and asked Rampal’s followers to not reach court. This was done so that no untoward incident takes place,” says Ram Kumar Solanki, management committee member of Satlok Ashram.

3: 02 pm: Rampal will remain in jail as he still has murder charges against him.

3:00 pm: Acquitted in two cases under Sections 323, 353, 186, 426, 147, 149, 188 and 342 of the Indian Penal Code.

2: 57 pm: Rampal will remain in jail as there are other cases still pending against him Haryana

2:45 pm: It is the victory of truth, says Rampal’s lawyer.

2: 42 pm: Sant Rampal has been acquitted in the two criminal cases: AP Singh. Rampal’s lawyer

2: 36 pm: SP Manisha Chaudhary at Central Jail Number 1 to monitor the situation.

2: 35 pm: Rampal will appear from Hisar Central Jail No 2 via videoconferencing so as to “avoid any untoward incident”.

2:33 pm: Proceedings have begun through videoconferencing; the judge is present at Hisar Central Jail No 1, while Rampal is present at Hisar Central Jail No 2.

2:11 pm: Proceedings begin at Hisar Central Jail No 1 in two criminal cases against self-styled godman Rampal.

12:16 pm: Judgement proceedings likely to begin at 2.30pm

12:14 pm: Rampal to be taken to court from Central Jail-2 around 2pm.

12:06 pm: The verdict is to be announced by additional district sessions judge Mukesh Kumar.

Charges against the godman

A case was registered against Rampal and his followers three years back under IPC sections 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of his public function), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty) and 353 (assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty).

Another case was registered against Rampal and his followers — Purshotam Dass, Raj Kumar, Mohinder Singh, Rajender Singh, Rahul and 30-40 other persons under IPC sections 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly, every other member of such assembly shall be guilty of the offence), 188 (disobedient to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant) and 342 (wrongfully confining any person).

Background

In November 2014, Rampal Dass holed up inside his 12-acre ashram in Haryana and tens of thousands of his followers — armed with stones and clubs — fought off an army of police and paramilitary personnel from arresting him. After a week-long stand-off and the deaths of six people at the Satlok Ashram, police nabbed Rampal on an arrest warrant issued for repeatedly ignoring court summons.

The episode triggered new cases against the so-called godman, including for murder, attempted murder, sedition, rioting and illegal detention.

Who is Rampal?

Rampal was born to a farmer at a village in Sonepat district of Haryana. Breaking from the traditional occupation, he did a diploma from the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) in Nilokheri, Karnal. He grew popular after touring Haryana as a bhajan singer, and then drew on his following within the Kabir sect to set up his Satlok Ashram (religious centre) in 1999.

His website says Rampal left his “job after having worked for 18 years, so that the people could be shown the true path”.

Run-ins with law

Rampal first ran into trouble for derogatory remarks against Arya Samaj. In 2006, he and his followers had violent clashes with supporters of the Arya Samaj. The clash claimed the life of a 20-year-old man and Rampal was arrested along with 38 of his followers on murder charges.

(with inputs from agencies)