Rampal, Self-Styled Godman, Convicted in Both Murder Cases by Hisar Court in Haryana
Rampal and his followers were booked on charges of murder and wrongful confinement after four women and a child were found dead at the former’s Stalok Ashram in Hisar’s Barwala town on November 19, 2014.
File photo of self-styled godman Rampal (AFP)
New Delhi: Self-styled godman Rampal and 28 others were convicted in both the murder cases by a court in Haryana's Hisar on Thursday. The quantum of sentence will be pronounced on October 16 and 17.
The additional sessions court, headed by judge D R Chalia, pronounced the verdict in connection with the murder cases dating back to 2014. Rampal and his followers were booked on charges of murder and wrongful confinement after four women and a 18-month-old child were found dead at the former's Stalok Ashram in Hisar's Barwala town on November 19, 2014. The arrest of the self-styles godman had followed violent clashes.
Another case was registered against Rampal and his followers after a woman was found dead in his ashram on November 18. A total of 80 witnesses, including doctors who conducted the postmortems on the victims, deposed during the trial.
The court, which was set up inside Hisar jail premises, said that it will decide the quantum of punishment on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. Rampal's lawyer, AP Singh, said that the verdict will be challenged in the high court.
The administration of Hisar was on its toes as the local court was scheduled to pronounce its verdict not risking a rerun of the Dera Sacha Sauda case.
Over 4,000 police personnel, besides five companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) and paramilitary troops, were deployed in Hisar to maintain law and order situation in the district. However, the self-styled godman's supporters did not turn up in large numbers, thereby providing some relief to the administration.
In the past one week, the police evicted Rampal’s supporters from other states, who gathered in the town. The police had also intensified security at abandoned Satlok Ashram.
Twelve years ago Rampal criticised a few parts of Arya Samaj which led to violent clashes between the two sects. His followers started firing at the villagers in Rohtak, Haryana, killing one and injuring 59 others. Following the incident, Rampal was charged with murder and was arrested in 2006.
He was provided bail in 2008 but failed to appear before the court in 2014. When police reached his Satlok Ashram, his supporters formed a protective ring around him to prevent police from arresting him. This led to a two-week standoff between the police and his over 15,000 followers. The Satlok Ashram followers had even declared that the police will have to shoot down 100,000 of his followers.
The godman was acquitted by a Hisar court in August, 2017, in two cases related to rioting, unlawful assembly and use of force. However, he is still in jail as he is facing several other charges, including murder.
Rampal’s name also figured in a list of “fake babas” released recently by the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad, top body of Hindu seers.
The parishad has earlier declared self-styled godmen including Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Radhey Maa, Nirmal Baba, Rampal, Asaram Bapu and his son Narayan Sai as “fake babas” in the wake of controversies surrounding them.
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