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This ‘Godman’ defies law; has own army

This ‘Godman’ defies law; has own army
Highlights

Outside the ashram of a self-styled Godman in Haryana\'s Hisar, thousands of his followers are ranged against Swat commandos who are waiting to swoop in.

  • HC issues fresh warrant for his arrest, third in two weeks
  • His supporters opened fire on villagers, killed one in 2006
  • Govt argued that Rampal is unwell and could not be arrested
  • HC judges sternly said that "the will to arrest him is lacking"

Hisar: Outside the ashram of a self-styled Godman in Haryana's Hisar, thousands of his followers are ranged against Swat commandos who are waiting to swoop in. The man at the heart of the confrontation, "Rampal Maharaj", failed to appear before the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday.

The court has issued a fresh warrant for his arrest - the third in two weeks. The police are reportedly preparing for a possible assault to force Rampal out of his "Satlok Ashram" at Barwala Town.

Inching closer to the ashram, the police issued warnings on loudspeakers but thousands of men, women and children, even infants, who have formed a human cordon around the complex, refused to budge.

The 63-year-old spiritual guru is out on bail in a case in 2006 when his supporters opened fire on villagers, killing one and injuring several others in Rohtak. A group of lawyers has petitioned the court to cancel his bail after they were allegedly attacked by his supporters earlier this year.

The state government and the police say they fear violence by his supporters if he is arrested. They believe some of his followers are carrying deadly weapons.
Police say the godman's supporters are carrying traditional as well as modern firearms
Over the past few days, the police have kept a tight vigil on the ashram but always at a distance of at least 600 meters. Rampal has skipped court hearings 42 times, and sought exemptions repeatedly.

The state government argued in court that Rampal is unwell and could not be arrested, but that did not wash with the judges who said sternly that "the will to arrest him is lacking."

Ordering the government to produce Rampal by Friday, the court said, "The state government's inability to arrest him will allow even small time criminals to defy the law."

The government had apparently planned to wait him out. Water and power supply have been cut off to the ashram and the government told court that it could survive "maximum one week", after which an arrest would be possible.

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