Efforts to arrest self-styled ‘godman’ Rampal, who is holed up in his ashram here, will continue, police said today after suspending the operation overnight following clashes between Rampal’s supporters and security personnel that left over 200 people injured.
The operation was halted last evening to enable Rampal’s followers to leave the Satlok Ashram in Hisar. Some women and children came out of the ashram during the night and were in the process of returning to their homes, they said.
Security personnel would continue their operation till Rampal is brought out of the ashram and produced before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which has issued a fresh non-bailable warrant against him in a contempt case, police said.
Clashes broke out yesterday leaving over 200 people, including security and media personnel, injured as efforts to arrest Rampal were met with stiff resistance by his supporters who allegedly fired at the police and lobbed ‘petrol bombs’.
Police lobbed teargas shells and resorted to lathicharge to disperse Rampal’s supporters.
Tension mounted as supporters of Rampal refused to heed to repeated announcements by the police over loud speakers to allow them to enter the premises to arrest him. Police alleged that Rampal had kept the followers hostage in the ashram.
The 63-year-old ‘godman’ was to appear before the High Court yesterday but he did not do so, with his counsel saying he was “unwell”.
The High Court then issued a fresh non-bailable warrant against him and asked the authorities to present him on Friday.
However, the ashram spokesman had said, “Sant Rampal was not running away from law. We have already said that he will present himself before the court as soon as his health improves. But authorities can’t use force to hunt him down”.
Rampal has cited health reasons for not appearing before the High Court on November 5 and 10.
Some disciples, who managed to come out from the ashram, claimed that “thousands” of people were inside the premises and a vast majority of them wanted to leave immediately but were being held back by lathi-wielding supporters of the ‘godman’.