Hisar: The scenes outside self-styled ‘godman’ Baba Rampal’s Satlok Ashram in Haryana’s Hisar town resemble a war zone as his supporters have indulged in clashes with police.
There are indications that hundreds of people have been detained by Baba Rampal’s ‘private army’ in the ashram. They have been using women and children as human shields.
With the situation worsening, Ministry of Home Affairs stepped in and sought a report from the state government.
In wake of the rising tension in Hisar, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has called an emergency meet to discuss the situation. Security has been beefed up in capital Chandigarh where Haryana Police and CRPF troops are guarding the Secretariat and High Court.
“We are committed to follow the orders of High Court,” said Shrinivas Vashisht, DGP, Haryana. He refuted charges that the media persons were heckled with, adding that the police has been fully co-operating with them. “We do not want to stop media from covering. We have cooperated with media. I have been informed that a media person has been attacked by police, once the operation is over, we will act on that,” said Shrinivas.
With Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday giving the government time till Friday to produce Rampal in contempt of court case, authorities have been asking the devotees in and around the Satlok Ashram to disperse and help them comply with court order.
Some disciples who managed to come out from the ashram premises on Tuesday claimed that “thousands” of people were inside and most of them wanted to leave but were being prevented by lathi-wielding supporters of the ‘godman’ from leaving. A large number of women and children, are among those who are still inside the Satlok Ashram, they claimed.
A woman follower, aged around 40, who identified herself as Kusum from Uttar Pradesh, said she somehow managed to come out from inside the Ashram today. “I forced my way out. There are scores of people still inside,” she said.
Another middle-aged woman follower, who came out from the Ashram, said “I am from Dadri. There are so many people still inside and vast majority of them want to leave. But they are not being allowed to leave.”
When asked who was putting pressure on them to stay back, a woman follower from Aligarh told reporters that, “I forced my way out. People are facing difficulty in getting food and water. But some men carrying lathis told us to stay back and tried to prevent us from leaving. They told us that the (court) decision will soon come and everything will be alright. We persisted that we wanted to leave and then we came out in a group”.
Rampal has been charged with interfering in judicial proceedings during the hearing of a case in the Hisar sessions court. On July 15, his supporters had marched inside the district court complex in Hisar and tried to create trouble in the court proceedings.
The HC took cognisance of the case and issued notices to Rampal and the state government.
(With inputs from PTI)