Police arrest fugitive Indian guru, after days of clashes

November 20, 2014 | By | Reply More

Nov 20, – A self-styled “godman,” or guru, was arrested late Wednesday after a tense weeklong standoff with the police, who had attempted to storm the heavily fortified compound where he was blockaded with an estimated 15,000 followers.

hromedia Police arrest wanted Indian guru, after days of clashes intl. news2Baba Rampal Maharaj, 63, who once worked as a junior engineer in the irrigation department for the northern state of Haryana, considers himself the reincarnation of Kabir, a 15th-century mystic poet.

The police in Haryana sought to arrest him on charges of conspiracy to murder, incitement of violence and contempt of court in connection with a confrontation in 2006 between his disciples and adherents of another sect.

Indian news channels have carried live reports of the standoff for days, as thousands of uniformed police officers gathered outside the high, steel-reinforced walls of Mr. Rampal’s 12-acre ashram in the city of Barwala, firing tear gas and demolishing the outer wall with a bulldozer.

According to local news media reports, Mr. Rampal was arrested in his chamber and was expected to appear in court on Thursday. Before the arrest, the authorities charged him with treason and dispatched an additional paramilitary force of 500 troops from New Delhi.

Numerous spiritualists can be found throughout India, often establishing gated communities complete with hospitals, schools and stadiums. Many of them cultivate relationships with political parties, which call on them to mobilize voters for elections, and are financed by wealthy and influential patrons. Occasionally, the authorities take action against them in criminal cases, leading to protracted, violent confrontations.

More than 10,000 people fled Mr. Rampal’s compound on Tuesday and Wednesday, but several thousand remained inside, said M. L. Kaushik, the top civil servant in the Hisar District. He said that the authorities had cut off the compound’s supplies of water and electricity about five days ago, and that many of those who fled said they had been held against their will.

Six people died in the compound, including several whose bodies were brought out on Wednesday. Though post-mortem examinations had not yet been conducted, Mr. Kaushik said none of the bodies showed marks of external injury.

At least 92 people were hospitalized.

“Family members said that they were inside the ashram for the last three months for some kind of treatment,” he said.

At a news conference Wednesday, Haryana’s police chief, S. N. Vashisht, said the police had faced a well-organized group of defenders from inside the compound, using “petrol bombs, diesel bombs, acid pouches, illegal arms, stones and sticks as missiles against the police.” He said 100 officers had been injured during the confrontation on Tuesday, some by gunshots, and 430 people had been arrested.

Some of Mr. Rampal’s followers disputed that account.

“The police and administration created all the violence,” said one follower, Saheb Dass, denying that those inside the compound were armed. He said that Mr. Rampal, whom he identified as “Maharaj Ji,” had failed to appear in court on the contempt of court charges because he was ill, and would do so when he recovered. “He is our god,” Mr. Dass said. “We believe him one hundred percent. He gives us spiritual knowledge. He explains us the meaning of God. He is our God. Whatever he says proves true one hundred percent.”

Press journalist for HRO media – Khizer Hayat reports.

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Category: International

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