Hisar: Controversial Godman Rampal has said that he will not appear before Punjab and Haryana High court on Monday in the contempt case on health grounds.
Rampal showed signs of relenting as his close aides on Sunday night said he would obey the High Court directive and appear before it if his "health" permits.
As tension continued to mount in the town of Hisar, the spokesperson for the godman's ashram Raj Kapoor on Sunday said "Sant Rampal ji has, in the past, appeared before the courts, whenever required. We are law abiding citizens."
Contending that the 63-year-old Rampal is not well, he said doctors will again review his health tomorrow morning and see if he can travel to Chandigarh."
Punjab and Haryana High Court had on Monday last issued a fresh non-bailable arrest warrant against Rampal in a contempt case and asked as to why his bail in a 2006 murder case should not be cancelled.
The Ashram spokesman ruled out any confrontation between police and Rampal's followers.
"We had said this earlier, we are saying this now again, that we will not enter into any confrontation with the police. However, if they try to forcibly take away Sant Rampal, then first they will have to take our lives," he warned.
His late night statement came as authorities tightened the noose, with possibility of police storming the ashram to arrest the godman, ahead of a High Court deadline for his appearance on Monday in a contempt case.
A large posse of police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in this area of Hissar district with official sources saying a plan to storm the Satlok Ashram, the seat of the godman, has been kept ready even as efforts are being made to persuade him to surrender on his own to avert any violence.
A police official said additional forces have been deployed in Barwala town where Rampal is being protected by a strong human shield formed by his followers, some of whom are stated to be carrying lethal weapons.
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. As he failed to appear before it, the court had last week issued non-bailable warrant against Rampal and asked the Haryana government to produce him and his aide Ram Kunwar Dhaka before it.