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‘Godman’ Rampal acquitted in two criminal cases, murder case verdict awaited

The Haryana court’s ruling comes three years after thousands of his followers clashed with police and paramilitary personnel that left at least six people dead.

india Updated: Aug 29, 2017 18:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Rampal,Rampal acquitted,Ram Rahim
Rampal Dass first burst into prominence in the late 90s after touring Haryana as a bhajan singer.(File photo)

A Hisar court acquitted self-styled godman Rampal on Tuesday in connection with two criminal cases registered against him, citing lack of evidence. Judicial Magistrate, Hisar, Mukesh Kumar pronounced the verdict, acquitting Rampal, head of Satlok Ashram, Barwala and his followers here. (LIVE updates)

Rampal would remain in jail as he is facing other charges including sedition, the defence counsel said.

The court is yet to announce a decision on more serious allegations of murder, attempted murder and sedition that have been filed against him

“He has been acquitted in the two cases (426 and 427). It’s a victory of truth,” said Rampal’s lawyer AP Singh.

The Indian Penal Code sections pertain to causing damage to public property and person.

The 66-year-old leader, who runs a sect housed in a sprawling 12-acre ashram in Hisar’s Barwala, first burst into prominence in the late 90s after touring Haryana as a bhajan singer.

On August 24, the judge had deferred the date of hearing to August 29 after the police cited tension in the wake of the Dera Sacha Sauda case.

On November 17, 2014, a case was registered against Rampal and his followers under sections 186 (Obstructing public servant in discharge of public function), 332 (Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (Assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty) of the IPC.

Another case was registered against Rampal and his followers Purshotam Dass, Raj Kumar, Mohinder Singh, Rajender Singh, Rahul and 30-40 other persons on November 18, 2014 on a complaint of Sukhdev Singh of Ratia (Fatehabad) for rioting, unlawful assembly, disobedience to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant and wrongfully confining any person.

Rampal was arrested after a tense standoff between some his supporters and the police after close to 15,000 of his followers were evacuated from the sprawling ashram premises in 2014.

The standoff had then turned violent, resulting into the death of five persons.

Rampal had resisted a police operation for his arrest on the Punjab and Haryana court orders. He had even refused to appear in the High court to reply to charges like contempt of court. He had holed himself up inside his ashram in Barwala, Hisar.

Rampal would remain in jail as he is facing other charges including sedition, the defence counsel said.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Aug 29, 2017 14:59 IST