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6 dead at Hisar ashram, Rampal's brother arrested

Five women and a child have died at Rampal's ashram in Hisar. No bullet marks or other injuries were found on them, police said. Rampal is still evading arrest, but his brother has been nabbed while trying to flee.

india Updated: Nov 19, 2014 22:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Hisar,Rampal,Haryana DGP

Six people, incuding a child, have died during the action at the Hisar ashram to arrest controversial sect leader Rampal, but the cause of their deaths is yet to be known, Haryana police said Wednesday.

Haryana DGP SN Vashisht said at a news conference that the dead included five women. The bodies which were found inside the ashram were sent to hospital for postmortem examination.

"There were no bullet or other injury marks on the dead. The police have not yet entered the ashram. The autopsy will reveal the cause of deaths," Vashisht said emphasising the ashram inmates had not died in the police action.

Rampal's brother Purushottam Dass was arrested while trying to flee the ashram.

Police also said 5,000 of Rampal's followers are still holed up inside the ashram and they have been asked to come out peacefully or face further action.

Watch:Rampal evades arrest, thousands of supporters vacate ashram after police cuts power

"We cannot launch a fullscale assault as there are many innocents are still trapped inside. More than 10,000 have come out safely so far and police have managed to save many lives," Vashisht said.

The state police chief said Rampal has now been charged with sedition and criminal conspiracy and that he has been asked to surrender.

The case has been filed under Sections 121 (waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India), 121A (conspiring to commit certain offences against the state) and 122 (Collecting arms etc. with the intention of waging war against the Govt of India).

Besides, the cases have also been slapped against the accused under Sections 123 (concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war) and other charges that include attempt to murder, assault and under various Sections of the Arms Act, police said.

Authorities had called off the operation on Tuesday evening after violent resistance from Rampal's followers foiled police attempts to enter the ashram.

The ashram chief is still elusive. While Haryana DGP SN Vashisht said they believe Rampal was inside the ashram, its spokesperson Raj Kapoor said Rampal was "unwell" and was being treated at an "undisclosed location".

The police had tried to storm Satlok Ashram on the outskirts of Hisar city to arrest the 63-year-old Rampal who is wanted on murder charges when his supporters fired with country-made weapons from inside.

Rampal's followers fought pitched battles by lobbing petrol bombs to thwart the charge by a 3,000-strong contingent of Haryana police commandos to storm the high-walled complex.

Earlier this week, Punjab and Haryana High Court gave the government time till Friday to produce Rampal in a contempt of court case. Rampal is on bail in another case in connection with the killing of a man in firing from his ashram in Rohtak in 2006.

We were confined, says Rampal's followers

Rampal's followers who came out Tuesday narrated how they were virtually confined there along with "thousands" more who too were "desperately" wanting to leave the premises.

Hailing from various parts of the country, the followers claimed that "private commandos" of Rampal had been "forcing" them not to leave, but they managed to persuade and come out.

"We had come to the ashram for a 'satsang' (religious gathering) a few days back. Later, we were asked to stay back and were not allowed to come out. The private commandos said that we will be safe inside and will be provided with food and taken care of.

However, we persisted that we needed to go out to get some medicines and somehow managed to come out this morning," Birender, hailing from Gwalior, who came out of the ashram in a group that included his mother, told reporters.

He claimed that while a "few thousand" followers of the engineer-turned-godman had managed to come out of the Ashram since yesterday, "still a huge number, which could run into thousands, are still inside".

A middle-aged woman follower from Uttar Pradesh, who came out of the ashram today, said "Many women with babies as young as two year old were also inside" and ration supplies were running "very low".

Hisar SP Satender Kumar Gupta said the police and civil administration was assisting the followers to reach destinations.The district administration has pressed into service buses to transport the followers to the bus stand and the railway station for their onward journey.

On Wednesday, several Haryana Roadways buses could be seen parked along the roads close to the Ashram, to ferry the followers who wish to travel to the Hisar bus stand and the Railway station.

Meanwhile, several people from many villages of Barwala had volunteered to provide food and other items to the followers, security personnel and the media crews covering the event.

First Published: Nov 19, 2014 12:41 IST