Violence erupts at ‘godman’s ashram

Barwala (Hisar): Clashes erupted at the ashram of controversial ‘godman’ Rampal here in Haryana today with police lobbing teargas shells and using lathicharge to disperse his supporters who allegedly fired back.

A number of people were injured in the violence at the Satlok Ashram in this town of Hisar district.

The stand-off of several days between the authorities and Rampal’s supporters took a violent turn as the Haryana government was racing against time to get hold of the ‘godman’ to meet the deadline of Friday set by Punjab and Haryana High Court for producing him in a contempt case.

As security personnel including police and para-military forces stepped up efforts to disperse the followers, said to be in thousands inside the Ashram, they faced stiff resistance.

A senior police official said supporters of the ‘godman’ were firing from inside the ashram but police was exercising maximum possible restraint to minimise casualties.

A portion of the outer wall of the ashram had been razed even as thick cloud of smoke was seen inside the premises.

Police also said that stones were being hurled at them from inside the Ashram as several followers and Rampal’s ‘private army’ had pitched themselves on the rooftop of the premises.

Authorities continued to face an uphill task in dispersing ‘godman’ Rampal’s followers from the Ashram here.

Police said they were facing a hostile crowd, some of them armed, from inside, but they were using restraint to keep the casualities to the minimum.