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‘Godman’ mayhem over

‘Godman’ mayhem over
Highlights

Haryana Police finally arrested elusive self-styled godman Rampal on Wednesday evening from his fortified Satlok Ashram near Barwala in Haryana.

5 women and a child die during the incident

  • Rampal’s 450 supporters also arrested:Police
  • Accused will be produced in the court today
  • None of the dead bore any bodily injuries: DGP
  • ‘Reasons will be known after post-mortem’

Chandigarh/Barwala: Haryana Police finally arrested elusive self-styled godman Rampal on Wednesday evening from his fortified Satlok Ashram near Barwala in Haryana. At least six people lost their lives in the stand-off as Rampal eluded the police, while many of his key aides and around 450 supporters were also arrested.
Police drag protesting Rampal followers from the site of the ashram (right) Rampal followers hold a demonstration at Jantar Mantar in Delhi
Rampal was Wednesday whisked away in an ambulance by police.

The deaths of five women and an infant occurred during a stand-off and violent clashes between the controversial sect leader's followers and the security forces.

Senior police officers and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and Haryana Police entered the ashram complex on Wednesday evening and Rampal was arrested just after 9 p.m.

"We have arrested him. He is in our custody. He is being taken to hospital for medical examination," a senior police officer said outside the ashram.

"He will be produced in the relevant court tomorrow (Thursday)," he said.

Police sources said Rampal would be taken to Chandigarh after medical examination. He is likely to be presented in a court there Thursday.

There was not much resistance offered by Rampal's supporters and his private army when he was finally taken into custody after 9 p.m., a police officer told IANS.

Sources said Rampal's face was covered with a cloth when he was brought out from inside the ashram.

"The mission (to arrest) has been completed successfully," said Jawahar Yadav, officer on special duty (OSD) to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

Nearly 14,000 followers on Wednesday came out of the ashram near Barwala town, 210 km from Chandigarh, even as Rampal continued to evade arrest. Rampal's key aides, including his relative Purshottam Dass, and spokesman Raj Kapoor were earlier taken into custody, police said.

Unlike Tuesday's violent clashes between sect followers and security forces, no clash took place Wednesday.

However, tension mounted on Wednesday evening as agitated villagers near Barwala, who are opposed to the sect leader, set some vehicles parked nearby on fire.

Earlier, Haryana Police chief S.N. Vashisht told the media in Chandigarh that bodies of four women were handed over by Satlok Ashram authorities to police Wednesday.

One woman, who had a heart ailment, and an 18-month-old child, reportedly suffering from jaundice, died in hospital due to lack of timely medical care, he said.

The director general of police (DGP) said none of the victims bore any bodily injuries.

He said the exact cause of their death would be known only after post-mortem examination.

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