Live: Rampal claimed he was Kabir's descendant, women were harassed in the ashram

End of updates for 21 November

10.28 pm: 865 accused arrested by police

A police official told PTI that seven separate cases had been registered against Rampal and his followers. The accused have been taken on five-day police remand.

As many as 865 accused have been arrested under these cases and nine others have also been taken on police remand, he added.

The police found a woman lying unconscious and locked in a bathroom. She was admitted to general hospital. She has been identified as Bijlesh, a resident of Ashok Nagar village in Madhya Pradesh. As the search operation was on, police also took into custody three persons hiding in the premises.

The three persons found hiding in the Ashram have been identified as Yaadram, resident of Jakhli, district Badaun, UP, Ravi, resident of Kharati, Chhattisgarh, and Ramesh, resident of Dhani Sillanwali, district Bhiwani in Haryana, according to PTI.

A huge amount of eatables recovered during the search operation was being disposed off by the Food and Supplies Department in compliance with the orders of high court.

8.34 pm: Cache of arms and ammunition found inside Rampal's ashram

A huge cache of arms and ammunition was found inside Rampal's Satlok ashram. The shocking details came to the fore during the police operation to nab the "mouse" - the code name used for Rampal.

The cops came across a number of almirahs. From two almirahs police has found .32 bore revolvers, .315 bore rifles and 12 bore guns. The officials found some ammunition, including several rounds used in self-loading rifles (SLR) and 303 rifles.

Rampal told his followers he was a descendant of Kabir. PTI

Rampal told his followers he was a descendant of Kabir. PTI

Most of the weapons were kept in bags and almirahs in two secret rooms. In the centre of the Ashram, Rampal had an elevated structure on which he had his seat. The ammunition was stored under the structure so that no one could suspect the location.

The Ashram, built like a fortress, is surrounded by high walls with watchtowers. A special room was set up within the Ashram for his securitymen comprising private commandos. The sprawling complex was found to be under constant surveillance with CCTV cameras installed at several key-points to keep a tab on the movements of devotees. Metal detectors had also been found.

In his prayer hall, Rampal used to sit in a hydraulic chair to deliver sermons from a bullet proof enclosure as his private militia stood guard. Rampal used to be elevated to the bulletproof cabin in the hall by means of a hydraulic lift. The hall had 3D projection facilities to screen Rampal's sermons.

The Ashram ran a well-stocked kitchen that could cater to one lakh people for a month. The complex can accommodate one lakh followers at a time. An electronic roti-making machine, having a capacity of preparing about 1,000 breads at a time, was found. - PTI

5.39 pm: Rampal's supporters in MP ashram are leaving

Rampal's sprawling ashram in Hisar was not the only one. The controversial 'godman' was planning to build yet another ashram in Betul in Madhya Pradesh, according to PTI.

Rampal's supporters have started leaving the 'godman' after his arrest. PTI

Rampal's supporters have started leaving the 'godman' after his arrest. PTI

The ashram spread over 70 acres, located on state highway- 69, nearly 10 kms away from here, witnessed regular activities till recently with disciples attending his sermons through audio-video screens, a police official said.

Some houses and a broad approach road, two water treatment plants installed on water bodies have already come up in the ashram. Besides, a huge shed with a capacity to accommodate 50,000 people is almost ready, the official said. The construction work at the ashram has been going on for the last three to four years.

However, after Rampal's arrest, his followers in Madhya Pradesh were leaving the ashram. The ashram came under scanner and subsequent searches were conducted on Wednesday in the nearby areas of the ashram, following which disciples started stepping out, the police official added.

4.59 pm: Rampal claimed to be Kabir's direct descendant

Rampal had told his followers that he was a direct descendant of Kabir. According to this DNA report, Rampal told his followers that instead of the Holy Trinity of Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh, Kabir needed to be worshipped as the supreme God in Hinduism.

The report also says that women were harassed and sexually assaulted in the ashram. "Reports say that the authorities are said to have forced women to partially take off their clothes – a salwar for some, dupatta for the others – so that they don't leave the ashram premises," said the report.

11.40 am: Mole helped cops nab Rampal

Recounting events of Wednesday when Haryana Police finally nabbed Rampal, a report in the Hindustan Times, said that it was finally a mole who gave up the 'godman.'

"We had plenty of information about what was happening inside. What strategies they were chalking out and who they were in touch with," the source was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times said.

With a two-tiered plan to evict the followers with the leader himself, the Haryana police said that the idea was never to force their way in. Instead, they wanted to break their morale and get them out.

According to the report, the fortified ashram was built in violation of many regulations and it will definitely be pulled down.

"Several notices have been served on ashram by the Town and Country Planning department. But there has been no response. It is a fit case for demolition," officials told HT.

11.21 am: 'Rampal's aides not even matriculate'

Inexperienced and uneducated aides of the sect leader in Haryana may have made things worse for Rampal who is already in neck-deep trouble. Hindustan Times in an article reports how despite several calls by the forces the sect leader "did not give up" till the very end.

Some of Rampal's supporters continued to visit the ashram even after his arrest. PTI

Some of Rampal's supporters continued to visit the ashram even after his arrest. PTI

Starting from backdoor negotiations to trying to cut a deal with the police for their 'godman', Rampal's associates did everything they probably should not have. According to the HT report, the police said that Rampal has a sad crop of advisers who remained unyielding during negotiations.

"His inner circle consists of 12-15 people, most of whom are not even matriculate. They have no idea of how the system in government and judiciary works. Any intelligent person would have emerged a winner in such a situation. But they did not know how to play their cards," a source speaking to HT said.

7.32 am: Rampal's ashram reveals his lavish lifestyle

Godmen usually denounce the world and live in austerity. Although, one close look at the Satlok Ashram -- where thousands were holed up for almost two days laying seige for their 'Sant' -- and it is easy to conclude that self-styled 'godman' Rampal was running a mini township.

Starting from bullet-proof enclosures or SUVs, swimming pools, gym equipment, flat screen TVs, split air-conditioners, massage therapy beds to tonnes of ration that could sustain hundreds of people for months -- you will find everything behind the walls of Satlak Ashram.

Blankets are piled in a hall inside Rampal's Satlok Ashram where his followers were holed up. AFP

Blankets are piled in a hall inside Rampal's Satlok Ashram where his followers were holed up. AFP

A report in The Indian Express added that wheelbarrows full of stones were strategically placed at points in case they had to be hurled. Police also found acid inside the ashram and water guns filled with petrol.

"We are still searching for more weapons," an officer was quoted by The Indian Express.

Speaking to IANS, officials said they were still counting because they have still not been able to reach every corner of the ashram spread over 12 acres of land.

Rampal is believed to have been living in a five-storey house in one part of the ashram complex which was secured from the rest of the area. The building was also home to his close aides.

"The entire building had luxury fittings from granite tiles, marble flooring, fancy grills, strong doors, well equipped bathrooms with modern fittings, split air-conditioners, flat-screen TVs and even massage beds. The personal rooms were big ones," a police officer inside Rampal's house told IANS.

7.24 am: 'Godman' Rampal's ashram had a hospital!

Rampal's ashram also had an in-house hospital with the latest equipment, IANS reported late on Thursday.

"We are trying to find some hidden areas of the ashram complex. We have been told that Rampal had an underground world as well," a police head constable said.

Entrance to Rampal's Satlok ashram in Hisar. PTI

Entrance to Rampal's Satlok ashram in Hisar. PTI

The ashram complex had a 20-feet wall all around for fortification. It was this wall that the security forces found hard to penetrate when they tried to enter the complex Tuesday.

Ashram followers claimed that Rampal had made provisions for being bathed in milk while he meditated and the same milk was used to prepare kheer, which was served to the followers saying this will bring happiness in their lives.

Ration stocks found at the ashram could last hundreds of people for months. Up to 10,000 people could have food at the same time.

"The stocks of ration show that the ashram authorities were prepared for a long haul or stand-off," a police officer said.

Before being arrested Wednesday after a 10-day stand-off, Rampal ensured that most rooms and areas of his luxury home were sealed with plywood and had locks on the doors.

7.12 am: Rampal charged with murder

Self-styled 'Godman' Rampal finally appeared before the court on Thursday and was promptly sent to jail by the Punjab and Haryana High Courts, IANS said in a report.

The latest reports confirmed that the Haryana Police slapped two cases of murder on Rampal and his aides for the six deaths caused in the stand-off and clashes with security forces this week.

Refusing to listen to Rampal's plea, that he could not appear earlier as he was 'kept in captivity' by his followers inside the ashram, the high court directed that he be kept in police custody till 28 November, when the contempt hearing will be held.

A division bench of Justice M Jeyapaul and Justice Darshan Singh directed the Haryana director general of police (DGP) to file a comprehensive affidavit on the operation conducted to arrest Rampal.

The court also sought a report on the nature of resistance offered by Rampal's followers, casualties and injuries, and recovery of arms from his ashram, amicus curie Anupam Gupta told the media.

The court directed police to provide details of the expenses incurred on arresting Rampal.

The court also directed the Haryana chief secretary to give a report on the properties owned by Rampal in the state. -- IANS

End of updates for 20 November

5.22 pm: SIT to probe cases against Rampal

Haryana Police ordered setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe certain cases registered against Rampal after the clash with his supporters at Satlok ashram.

"A Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Hisar SP (Satender Kumar Gupta) will investigate some cases. Two DSPs and four Inspectors and others too will be part of the SIT," Inspector General of Police (Hisar Range) AK Rao told PTI. A total of 460 persons have been arrested so far on various charges.

"Our main aim was to execute the High Court's Non-Bailable Warrant against Rampal and to ensure safety and security of the innocent lives," Rao told PTI.

Inside the sprawling Satlok ashram complex, massive arrangements could be seen in place for accommodating thousands of followers. Stocks of food items too could be seen lying inside while several water bottles and other items lay scattered. In view of winter, arrangements for large number of followers to sleep comfortably too had been made.

A large swimming pool was found inside and amenities to ensure comfortable stay of Rampal and his key functionaries inside the Ashram could be seen.

CCTV cameras and metal detectors to check the followers of Rampal, who had some ex-servicemen and retired policeman among his staunch supporters, were also found installed at various points in the Ashram. - PTI

4.58 pm: 4000 people have left ashram, Satlok completely empty, says Haryana DGP

Haryana DGP SN Vashisht, in a press conference, confirmed that over 400 people had been arrested by the police. "469 people have been arrested while more people are being questioned. Out of the total arrests made, 118 belong to Rajasthan, 116 Haryana, 72 Madhya Pradesh, 10 Bihar, 83 Uttar Pradesh and three from Nepal," Vashisht said in Chandigarh.

"We will interrogate those arrested," said the Haryana DGP. He added that Rampal's close aide Baljit had also been arrested.

"We have also arrested Rampal's key aide Baljeet, whose daughter Babita too has been arrested and from her one laptop, six mobile phones, 10 hard disks, 17 CDs, three telephone diaries and five files have been recovered.

"A special team including cyber experts, will scan all these equipment and whatever information we get during the course of the investigation will shared with you," he said. He said that another key aide Ram Kunwar Dhaka too had been arrested.

Sant Rampal was produced before the Punjab and Haryana High Court today. PTI

Sant Rampal was produced before the Punjab and Haryana High Court today. PTI

With respect to the six deaths that took place during the conflict, Haryana DGP said the post-mortem had been conducted into the deaths. Vashisht confirmed that no apparent injury had been found on the bodies. However, he also said that internal injuries, including rib fracture, was found on the bodies of Santosh and Rajbala. Further examination will be conducted, he said.

"I want to say that two other cases have been registered in Barwala and these pertain to murder. The six deaths that occurred (during siege inside Ashram that included an infant and five women) have been covered in these two cases," said Vashisht.

The Haryana DGP also said that around 4000 people had now left the ashram, out of which 1500 were women. He added that the ashram was now completely empty. "The Ashram area is very big. Although we will try to complete the search of the ashram quickly, it will take time," said Vashisht.

"I want to make it clear that all the deaths will be probed thoroughly and anyone found guilty will be dealt as per law," he said.

Asked to comment on Rampal's counsel SK Garg submitting before the High Court that the Rampal was actually in "captivity within the Ashram", the DGP said, "I have learnt about it through the media. It is difficult to believe such a theory that the man who was heading the Ashram is saying so."

2.57 pm: Court sends Rampal to judicial custody

The Punjab and Haryana High Court sent Rampal to judicial custody till 28 November.

Rampal was sent to judicial custody till 28 November. PTI

Rampal was sent to judicial custody till 28 November. PTI

The amicus curiae futher said that the expenditure on security and protection should be borne by Rampal. The High Court has also said that all those named in the contempt of court case should be present in court on 28 November. The Haryana government will also submit a comprehensive report on 28 November and the Haryana DGP has been asked to file an affidavit, said Times Now.

2.22 pm: Rampal produced before Punjab and Haryana HC, contempt proceedings begin

Contempt proceedings against 'godman' Sant Rampal began in the Punjab and Haryana High Court as Rampal was produced in the court.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court also asked for details on the Hisar operation and the resistance made by Rampal during the conflict, according to Times Now. The High Court also said that there is a need to check deras for pending warrants and illegal arms.

Counsel also informed the court that 2000 followers are still inside the ashram. The defence counsel also said that Rampal himself was in captivity, according to Times Now. The High Court also praised the Haryana state government for conducting the operation with minimum collateral damage.

1.23 pm: Rampal reaches Punjab and Haryana High Court

Rampal has reached the Punjab and Haryana High Court, where he will be produced shortly. Six vehicles of police were following the truck in which Rampal was kept. The entire cavalcade was accompanied by Rapid Action Force.

Sant Rampal was jailed today. He will be presented in court at 2 pm today. IBNLive

Sant Rampal was jailed today. IBNLive

The 'godman' was put behind bars earlier today as several security personnel in riot gear stood guard outside his cell.

1.18 pm: Rampal's followers gradually coming out of ashram

Followers of Rampal are gradually coming out of his ashram even as security personnel are treading with caution before launching a full-scale search in the Ashram for objectionable items, including arms and ammunition.

Police said that they suspect some staunch supporters and members of his private commandos were still inside, PTI reported. Police and para-military forces involved in the operation have been appealing to the followers who are still inside the ashram to come out without any fear, but some were still apprehensive.

Followers of Rampal are gradually coming out of the ashram. PTI

Followers of Rampal are gradually coming out of the ashram. PTI

"They created fear and used pressure tactics to hold us back. They kept telling us that as soon as we venture out we will be arrested and put to harm," Indu, a middle-aged woman follower from Madhya Pradesh, told reporters.

"If you go out, police will shoot you, they think you are criminals," a young follower from Uttar Pradesh, said, giving detail how coercive tactics were used to force them to stay back.

Hundreds of followers who had been inside the Ashram came from poor economic and educational background and even from far off places like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

12.53 pm: Congress blames Khattar, Modi for Hisar incident

Congress said that PM Narendra Modi appointed Manohar Lal Khattar as Chief Minister, who had "no experience in public life and administration".

AICC general secretary in-charge for Haryana Shakeel Ahmed told PTI, "Modi had picked up Khattar as Haryana chief minister. He totally botched up the issue and could not handle it because he is a person with no experience in administration and public life.

"Similar situations twice were handled well when Congress Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hood ran the state earlier."

12.44 pm: Post-mortem report of 3 bodies shows 'no injury mark'

Police said that according to the preliminary post-mortem report of three bodies, which were handed over by the Ashram authorities, "no injury mark has been found on the bodies."

Authorities were handed over the autopsy reports of three out of four women who died under mysterious circumstances, said PTI.

11.26 am: Rampal claims innocence

On what is believed to be his first comment to the media, self-styled 'godman' Rampal said:

"I am sorry about death of followers but did not use any as human shields."

'Godman' Rampal. Image courtesy: Facebook

'Godman' Rampal. Image courtesy: Facebook

On his way out of the court, when Rampal was hounded by media persons and asked what did he have to say about the arrest, he said in a calm demeanor that he was innocent.

Speaking to Times Now, the 'godman' who was surrounded by policemen said:

"The charges against me are false. I am being framed. I am innocent."

As journalists fired a volley of questions at him, Rampal kept walking towards a waiting police vehicle, jostling his way through the battery of mediapersons who surrounded him, said PTI.

11.02 am: Rampal's medical examination shows he is 'stable'

Rampal was taken for a mandatory medical examination in Panchkula during which his health parameters were found "stable". The 'godman' was brought to Panchkula Government hospital in Haryana in an ambulance from Barwala after traveling nearly 220 kms.

After he was brought to the Panchkula hospital, Rampal, who had a shawl wrapped around his body and his head covered, walked out of the ambulance on his own to enter the health institution, according to PTI.

Rampal during his medical examination. PTI

Rampal during his medical examination. PTI

Immediately on arrival, doctors at the government health institution in Sector 6 here conducted tests on him. Dr Rajesh of the Civil Hospital told reporters that the godman's overall health parameters appeared "stable".

Dr Rajesh of the Civil Hospital told reporters that the godman's overall health parameters appeared "stable".

10.30 am, 20 November: Bail cancelled for Rampal

The bail plea of self-styled 'godman' Rampal, arrested from his Satlok ashram in Barwala, Haryana was cancelled today. He will be produced in Punjab and Haryana High Court at 2 pm today.

The HC pronounced the cancellation of bail immediately after Haryana Advocate General and Station House Officer (SHO) of Barwala Police Station in Hisar moved an application stating that Rampal had been arrested in a contempt of court case, said PTI.

The bench comprising of Justices M Jeyapaul and Darshan Singh ordered that he be arrested immediately in the 2006 murder case in which one person had died and some others were injured after a clash at his Ashram at Kainthola in Rohtak district in Haryana.

Meanwhile, the Haryana Police have placed heavy security arrangements outside the HC premises to keep followers of the self-styled godman at bay and to ensure that they do not break the law.

End of updates for 19 November

10.24 pm: Rampal taken to Chandigarh hospital, to be produced in court on Thursday

After his arrest, self-styled godman was taken to a Chandigarh hospital and would be produced to in court tomorrow according to reports.

CNN-IBN reported that a medical check up would be done on the godman before he was produced in court.

Meanwhile NDTV reports that more than 4,000 of his supporters are still inside the ashram.

9.43 pm: Rampal would be charged with waging war against state, says Haryana govt spokesperson

The Haryana government has confirmed that Sant Rampal has been arrested, with the government's spokesperson calling it the achievement of the BJP government.

Jawahar Yadav told CNN-IBN, "It is confirmed that Rampal has been arrested. It is the achievement of the government that he was arrested without the police firing one bullet."

Outlining the charges that may be slapped on the godman, Yadav said, "He would be charged with war against the state, rioting, land grabbing and many other sections."

Meanwhile Haryana police sources told CNN-IBN that Rampal would be produced in a Haryana court shortly.

9.25 pm: Haryana police arrest godman Rampal from Hisar ashram

Haryana police have finally arrested godman Rampal in Hisar. Reports say that he would now be taken to Chandigarh.

TV reports say that he may have been taken out in an ambulance because he complained of health complications.  The ambulance was followed by a cavalcade of police and security forces' vehicles. The media, present in large numbers, was asked to clear the way for the ambulances to enter the ashram, police said.

DGP S N Vashisht said that Rampal had been taken into custody following an operation which was "very tough" since the forces had to deal with a hostile army of his commandos.

Panipat SP, B Sateesh Balan, who was among the five SPs of neighbouring Hisar who took part in the operation to hunt down the engineer-turned 'godman', said he did not surrender but was arrested from Satlok ashram.

"We are happy that the entire operation went off peacefully," a senior officer said. Haryana police sources said  that they plan to slap charges of waging war on the state on the godman.

9.16 pm: Protesters marching towards Barwala stopped by police

Protesters from Barwala, located on the Hissar Ambala Highway, who were marching towards the Satlok Ashram of Rampal were stopped by the security personnel.

"There is a resentment simmering among people of Barwala town and nearby villages against Baba Rampal and they tried to move towards (the) Ashram," police told PTI. They said that the situation was "saved due to heavy deployment of (security) forces."

9.08 pm: Rampal traced inside ashram, to be arrested in the next hour, say reports

Even as the police prepared for a final crackdown on Rampal's ashram reports say that the godman may be arrested soon.

Sources told CNN-IBN that Rampal would be arrested within the next one hour and would taken to Chandigarh immediately.  The sources have said that there is a bunker inside the ashram where Rampal is being shielded.

8.47 pm: Police preparing for final assault on Satlok ashram

Police is preparing for the final assault to arrest 'godman' Rampal from his ashram. Unlike on Tuesday, when the vicinity of the ashram looked like a war-zone when police and Rampal's supporters clashed, including small arm firing from inside, the situation was peaceful today.

By late evening, a large posse of CRPF personnel were brought to the periphery of the ashram spread over 12 acres, reported PTI. "We are going step by step. We will take the final step soon," a senior police officer said, making it clear that authorities are preparing for the final assault. Hisar Range IG AK Rao expressed hope to hunt down Rampal soon.

"There is no possibility of negotiations... There is not even any plan.. He is accused of serious crimes. My suggestion to him is that he should surrender before the law," the DGP said. Those arrested include son of Rampal and chief volunteer
Purushottam Dass.

8.29 pm: Issue of police assaulting media persons will be investigated, says Haryana CM

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that the issue of police personnel assaulting media persons in Hisar would be investigated and said he was concerned about the same.

Khattar also expressed his gratitude to the people for their cooperation and patience during the entire incident.

8.18 pm: More Rampal supporters leave the ashram

More supporters of Sant Rampal left the ashram as men, women and children were seeing coming out. Around 15,000 people have left the ashram so far, according to PTI.

Around 15,000 people left the ashram. PTI

Around 15,000 people left the ashram. PTI

Footage showed some of the people walking out of the ashram with their hands raised. The SSP of Barwala was at the site to monitor the situation. Police have cordoned off the entire area for now.

The followers, hailing from different parts of the country including UP, Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, left left the ashram through the day. Many of them narrated how they were prevented from leaving by the 'godman's 'private army', according to PTI.

Some of them said they had heard inside the Ashram that Rampal was hiding in some bunker within the premises.

Among the followers who came out and sought police help including Ram Lal, Shiv Shankar and Saroj told police and media persons that they were kept hostage by the volunteers of the Ashram.

6.59 pm: Rajnath speaks to Haryana CM over the situation

Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar on the issue. The Home Minister tweeted saying Khattar briefed him about the situation over the phone.

Rajnath Singh asked Khattar to bring about an early end to the standoff between police and supporters of Rampal, amidst indications of unhappiness at the Centre about the way the issue was handled by the state government, said PTI.

Moreover, TV reports showed footage of cars set on fire about 500 metres from the ashram at around 4.30 pm. Times Now also reported that a few individuals ran away with their faces covered from the site soon after it was set on fire.

Image Courtesy: IBNLive

Image Courtesy: IBNLive

6.29 pm: CRPF to take over operation, Rijiju says MHA is monitoring situation

The Central Reserve Police Force will replace the local police in Haryana for the Satlok ashram operation against Rampal and his supporters, according to Times Now.

Moreover, sources told Headlines Today that the 'godman' Sant Rampal is likely to surrender to police forces by tonight.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told Times Now, "Centre will act if state seeks help. This is basically state subject. I don't think the situation is out of control. We can't interfere just like that. Right now, I believe the state government is handling the situation effectively." Rijiju added that "MHA is monitoring the situation."

"It is not a breakdown of law and order situation in the state. This is just one incident restricted to one ashram," Rijiju added.

"We are mobilising the force from nearby areas and they will reach the spot soon," another Home Ministry official said, according to PTI.

Meanwhile, in a report submitted to the Home Ministry, the Intelligence Bureau said the situation at Rampal's ashram continues to be tense and "there is all likelihood of further violence in case police attempt to get the ashram vacated and arrest Rampal".

"In view of apprehension of retaliation by the inmates of the ashram, there is need for police to tread cautiously," it said. The report said around 12,000 followers are still inside the ashram. Haryana police have said that they have arrested 425 people from the ashram.

5.58 pm: Operations to continue till Rampal arrested, says Haryana CM

Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar said that the state operations will not stop until Sant Rampal was arrested.

Khattar also stressed on the fact that the state forces were committed to ensure that the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court were followed. He added that the government's main priority was to protect innocent lives.

Haryana government spokesperson Jawahar Yadav reiterated this point when he told Times Now, "Out main priority is to protect innocent lives and save as many people as possible." Yadav also praised the police for acting with patience. On being question over the attack on media persons by the police, Yadav said, "Our government considers media to be the 4th pillar of democracy. Whoever is guilty will be punished."

Yadav further said, "This is a result of previous government's inaction." On being questioned about the six people who had died so far, Yadav said, "No injury was found on the bodies of those who died. Therefore, they did not die because of police action." Yadav also said that the police did not charge into the ashram for the protection of the lives of innocents who were at the ashram.

5.24 pm: Events like these cause disgust for religion, says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar expressed his views on the Hisar clashes and tweeted, saying that such events cause disgust and fear for religion. He also criticised Rampal's actions and said that leaders should not think they are above the law.

Shankar also said people who misused religion for personal gain should be 'severely dealt with'.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also said that he had tried to contact Sant Rampal but was able to do so.

5.17 pm: Law Minister refuses to comment on issue

Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda refused to join issue, saying law and order is a state subject. "Law and order is a state subject. A direction has been issued by the (Punjab and Haryana) High Court, that needs to be implemented by the state government. It is not appropriate for me to comment at this juncture," Gowda told PTI.

Former Congress leaders are in talks with Rampal, according to NDTV. Moreover, 5000 people are still believed to be trapped inside.

5.15 pm: Press Council of India sets up panel to probe attack on media

A fact-finding committee has been set up by the Press Council of India (PCI) to look into the attack on media persons by police personnel in Hisar on Tuesday.

PCI chairperson Justice Markandey Katju, in a statement, said that he had considered reports about the attack on media persons on Tuesday by the police in which several journalists were beaten up and their equipment broken.

He said that he was of the "prima facie opinion that this is a violation of fundamental freedom guaranteed by Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution".

Hisar police has been accused of assaulting media. PTI

Hisar police has been accused of assaulting media. PTI

The PCI chairman set up a four-member fact finding committee consisting of Sondeep Shankar (convenor), Kosuri Amarnath, Rajeev Ranjan Nag and Krishna Prasad.

The Committee may meet and talk with media persons, including those who were attacked or whose cameras etc were broken, journalists, organisations, managements, editors etc as well as the authorities including the police and public and others concerned, the order said. The PCI chairperson asked the authorities in Haryana and Chandigarh to extend cooperation to the committee.

4.42 pm: Centre to send 500 jawans to Hisar to control situation

Centre will send 500 jawans of the paramilitary force to be deployed around the Satlok ashram in Hisar, according to Headlines Today.

Moreover, 70 people have been sent to a 14-day judicial custody in connection with Tuesday's clashes.

The Centre is reportedly unhappy with the state for the alleged lack of proper action taken by the state to control the situation. TV reports said the central intelligence units had sent inputs to the state government regaring the law and order situation which was ignored by the state.

3.47 pm: Police arrest Rampal's aide Purshottam Das from ashram

Sant Rampal's aide, Purshottam Dass, was arrested by the police from the Satlok Ashram, according to TV reports.

Reports also said that Das was arrested by the police as he was trying to escape from the ashram where his brother is hiding from the police.

Authorities also mounted pressure on Rampal as sedition and other serious charges were slapped against him, according to PTI.

Police registered fresh cases last night against Rampal, ashram spokesman Raj Kapoor, another key functionary Purshottam Dass and several other followers under under various Sections of the IPC.

The cases have 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.

Violent clashes between Rampal's supporters and Hisar police leave 6 dead

The violent conflict between Rampal's supporters and Hisar police took the life of five women and a one-year-old child. Bodies of four women were found in the ashram in Hisar in Haryana. The ashram authorities handed over the bodies of Savita (31) of Delhi, Santosh (45) of Rohtak, Raj Bala (70) of Bijnore and Malikit Kaur (50) of Sangrur in Punjab.

The clashes between Rampal's supporters and Hisar police killed six. PTI

The clashes between Rampal's supporters and Hisar police killed six. PTI

On the other hand, 20-year-old Rajni, who was in a serious condition having a heart ailment, was rushed to Hisar hospital from the ashram at around 4 am, but she died there four hours later, PTI reported. A one-and-a-half year-old, whose father's name was Vipin Pratap Singh, also died as he was suffering from congenital jaundice.

About the deaths, the DGP said there were no wounds on the bodies of the four women. The police was not sure under what circumstances they had passed away and police will investigate all deaths to ascertain the cause, he said. "Post-mortem examination of the bodies will be conducted to ascertain the exact cause behind their deaths," he said.
The infant belonged to Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh.

The conflict started when Punjab and Haryana High Court gave the government time till Friday to produce Rampal in contempt of court case, after which Rampal's supporters surrounded the Satlok Ashram and prevented the police from entering its premises.

The sect leader has been avoiding arrest and has failed to appear before the Punjab and Haryana High Court although non-bailable warrants were issued against him on 5 November.

Rampal's supporters had indulged in vandalism in a court in Hisar in July this year when he was going there in connection with a 2006 murder conspiracy case. The high court took suo motu notice of the incident and summoned Rampal.

Haryana DGP SN Vashisht said nearly 270 of Rampal's supporters, including 20 key functionaries of his ashram, besides 250 members of his 'private army' have been detained after the fresh charges, including that of rioting, were invoked.

After investigation, those found involved will be put under arrest, he added.

"As the investigation progresses, further charges would be added on the basis of evidence that comes to the fore against them," he said. He said the operation had been temporarily halted last night to allow more followers to come out of the ashram.

"So far, as many as 10,000 followers have come out. We believe nearly 5,000 followers are still inside. These followers include women, children and very old persons as well. Most of them hail from places like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

Police use tear gas shells and lathi charge on Rampal's supporters during the clash. PTI

Police use tear gas shells and lathi charge on Rampal's supporters during the clash. PTI

"We are committed to protecting the lives of innocents. Therefore, we are not setting any deadline for this operation as our over-riding priority is to save the lives of innocents," said the DGP, who was flanked by Additional Chief Secretary (Home) PK Mahapatra and Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Sanjeev Kaushal.

He said so far the security personnel have not entered the ashram and denied that there had been any delay or laxity on part of the police.

The vicinity of the ashram looked like a war-zone, a day after clashes between police and 'private army' of Rampal's supporters, who allegedly indulged in firing and throwing petrol bombs at security personnel.

About 15,000 followers of Rampal were holed up in the ashram, out of which 10,000 have been evacuated, the DGP said. Many of those who left the ashram narrated how they were prevented from leaving by the godman's 'private army'.

"There is no possibility of negotiations... There is not even any plan.. He is accused of serious crimes. My suggestion to him is that he should surrender before the law," Vashisht said while addressing a press conference in Chandigarh.

On Tuesday, the Hisar police had also been accused of assaulting media persons who were on the ground reporting the incidents. New agencies like Times Now, NDTV and Headlines Today alleged that policemen assaulted them, beat up their crew and broke some of their cameras. The DGP later responded in a press conference, saying that the assault was not intentional and that their primary objective was to protect the lives of innocent people and keep them away from violence.


Updated Date: Nov 21, 2014 22:31 PM

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