Above law: Commandos at service, Haryana Sant takes on court

Chandigarh: A ‘commando force’ and several rings of private security to protect a spiritual leader from the law of the land – this sounds unusual, but it isn’t if one is familiar with the ways of Sant Rampal, head of the Satlok Ashram in Hisar district of Haryana. The armed followers have so far been successful in thwarting police attempts to arrest the Sant who is being tied in a contempt of court case.

Tension has prevailed in Hisar ever since a Punjab and Haryana High Court’s order on 5 November seeking the arrest of the controversial Sant Rampal and his aide Ram Kumar Dhaka. The court had directed Haryana Director General of Police (DGP) and home secretary to ensure that non-bailable warrants were executed and the two brought before the court for hearing on 10 November. But the aggressive resistance from the Sant's followers has prevented the police from executing the non-bailable arrest warrant. The court on Monday extended the deadline for his arrest and production before the court till 17 November.

 Above law: Commandos at service, Haryana Sant takes on court

Representational image. PTI

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has also pulled up the BJP government of Haryana for constituting a medical board to look in to the health of the Sant without its authorization or permission. The aide, Dhaka, however, appeared before the Punjab and Haryana High Court and was given bail.

Earlier, during the appearance of Sant Rampal in Hisar court on 14 July his personal security guards and supporters had not allowed the lawyers to enter the court premises. The lawyers had filed a contempt of court plea in the Punjab and Haryana High Court which had then summoned Sant Rampal on 5 November and when he didn't appear the court issued a non-bailable warrant against him and asked the police to produce him 10 November.

Soon after the order was issued, thousands of die-hard supporters gathered at the 12-acre ashram of Sant Ramal at Barwala. They formed a human chain around the ashram to thwart any attempt by the Haryana Police to arrest the sant. The devotees gave the plea that since he was unwell he was unable to go to the court.

Since then they have turned the Satlok ashram into a fortress. Youth, armed with guns and bamboo sticks, have been guarding the ashram not allowing the police to enter. More devotees are pouring in with the plea that the Sant had called a Satsang at the ashram. Ashram buses have been dispatched to nearby areas to pick more and more devotees.

There were two rings of human chain around the ashram. The first ring was formed by youth dressed like Black Cat Commandos. They carried batons and protective gear. The second line of human chain comprises of experienced, aged men holding walkie-talkies in their hands. These are the people who also control the 'Black Cat Commandos' and give commands on what to do. A lot of youth have also been standing on the roof of the ashram to keep an eye on the surroundings and warn the guards if the police approached. Several people stood near the ashram carrying banners questioning the integrity of judges.

On its part the Haryana Police too had been amply prepared. Sources in the Haryana government said 25 companies of Haryana Police has been posted in Hisar. These included 10 companies of the Hisar range and the rest from other districts. Besides the 2,500 policemen, paramilitary force too has been posted. Hisar SP, Satender Gupta told the media that to comply with the high court orders they have requisitioned 35 more companies of police, besides the 25 companies already posted.

ML Kaushik, Hisar DC said they were hopeful that a peaceful solution could be worked out without any confrontation with the supporters of the ashram. The DC held several round of talks with the ashram devotees. Meanwhile, Hisar Police put up barriers at several place leading to entry points of Barwala to check the entry of unwanted elements. Ambulances and fire-fighting vehicles have been installed near the ashram to meet any emergency situation.

Loudspeakers installed at the ashram have been exhorting the guards to be ready to make sacrifices for their godman. Devotees have been reportedly urged to fight against the injustice being done to them. Meanwhile a Hisar Civil hospital team led by Dr Dayanand, deputy chief medical officer Ashok Chaudhary and Naresh Satsangi had reportedly checked the health of Rampal. This was a move by the Hisar district administration to see if Rampal was ill as his supporters had claimed. According to sources, Sant Rampal was suffering from conjunctivitis. The Punjab and Haryana High Court in its order on 10 November has said this was not a valid reason for remaining absent from the court.

Sant Rampal's supporters had stormed Chandigarh on 5 November, the day Punjab and Haryana High Court, situated in the city had summoned the spiritual leader. Around 40,000 supporters of the Sant had gathered at the Chandigarh Railway station. Several Delhi and other places bound travelers had missed their trains as a result. This was not the first time huge gathering of some spiritual leader thronged the city. There are several instances of devotees of other leaders too, including Gurmeet Ram Rahim of Dera Sachha Sauda descend on some or the other city where the hearing takes place in a court.

Last year too, Sant Rampal’s followers had clashed with the police at Rohtak in which three people had been killed and 60 injured. Several properties had also been damaged. The Arya Samaj followers had opposed the Sant Rampal supporters then. The two groups had also clashed in Rohtak in 2006. Rampal had then been booked for murder and attempt to murder and remained in jail for 22 months before being released on bail on 2008.

"Whether it is a spiritual leader or the president of the country, the rule of law must always prevail. Supporters of any leader cannot guard and protect him from the police illegally. I know only one thing, if the court has summoned someone, he or she must appear before it. There cannot be any exception in this regard, otherwise from tomorrow even criminal elements will start posting musclemen around their houses to prevent the police from arresting them," said Didar Singh Nalvi, a senior leader of the Haryana unit of the SGPC, while talking to Firstpost.

Social activist and Jat leader Khushwant Singh said: "Rule of law of the land should prevail at all cost. Spiritual leaders should never take the law in their hands."

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Updated Date: Nov 11, 2014 17:18:12 IST