Haryana, August 29: A day after a major verdict of sentencing Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim, Haryana witnessed the verdict on another self-styled godman, Rampal in a criminal case.
Sant Rampal acquitted in the two criminal cases (426 and 427). Its a victory of truth, said lawyer AP Singh.
Proceedings began via video conferencing at Hisar Central Jail No. 1 in two criminal cases against self-styled godman Rampal.
Earlier three years ago, 67-year-old Rampal’s arrest in a murder case triggered a two-week deadlock between his followers and the police.
Sant Rampal has been acquitted in the two criminal cases: AP Singh Lawyer pic.twitter.com/wtPCGVowY0
— ANI (@ANI) August 29, 2017
The siege and clashes that erupted over his arrest took six lives. The so-called godman is accused of conspiracy in an 11-year-old case, in which his supporters had opened fire on villagers in Rohtak, killing one person and injuring several others.
Rampal was arrested in 2014 and currently serving in jail as he failed to appear in court for 43 times. The arrest was preceded by massive violence at his Satlok Ashram in Barwala, Hisar — around 200 km from Chandigarh — where nearly 15,000 of his followers had hunkered down, forming a protective ring around him.After days of impasse, the authorities decided to cut off power and water and food supply to the ashram. When the devotees finally started drifting out on the morning of November 18, 2014, some of them alleged that they had been held prisoner there to bolster the human shield.
As the day passed, his 12-acre heavily fortified maze-like ashram turned into a war zone. When the police started their final assault, storming the huge gates, Rampal’s followers first retaliated with stones and then with acid and petrol bombs. By the end of it, nearly 200 people were injured in the clash. Six people — five women and a baby — had died during the siege.
The clashes were the first major incident of violence after the BJP government led by Manoharlal Khattar came to power. The state has been massively criticized over the weekend by the Punjab and Haryana high court for failing to maintain law and order prior to the verdict on another self-styled spiritual leader, Gurmeet Ram Rahim, who was sent to jail for 20 years on Monday. On Thursday, Haryana’s Panchkula witnessed massive violence and arson as a court found him guilty of raping two women followers in 2002. For days before more than a lakh of his followers had trickled into the peaceful city close to Chandigarh.
Several other self-styled godmen have been embroiled in scandals and criminal cases. Asaram, who has nearly 400 ashrams across India, was held in 2013 after a 16-year-old girl accused him of raping her on the pretext of ridding “evil spirits”. Hundreds of supporters of the 76-year-old clashed with television news crews and police after his arrest. Since then, at least three key witnesses in the case have been shot dead.
Karnataka hailing Swami Nithyananda is accused in several cases including assault and sexual abuse, though he has never been convicted. Five women complaint against the 40-year-old of abusing them at his ashram. In 2010, he was in jail for 53 days after a sex video scandal. Nithyananda, who also operates a meditation centre in Los Angeles, claims to possess paranormal powers of levitation.