Mounting pressure on the controversial 63-year-old baba, Haryana Police slapped fresh cases, including the serious charge of sedition, against him and ruled out any negotiation to seek his custody for production in Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday, the deadline set by the court.
Police said 70 supporters of the Rampal, most of them his ‘private commandos’, who indulged in violence yesterday, were arrested and produced before the local court which sent to judicial custody till December 3.
Those arrested, include son of Rampal and chief volunteer Purushottam Dass.
Unlike yesterday, when the vicinity of the ashram in this town of Hisar district looked like a war-zone when police and Rampal’s supporters clashed, including small arm firing from inside, the situation was peaceful on Wednesday.
More than 10,000 followers, including aged men and women and children, who had been holed up inside the ashram for days, came out with raised hands, signalling peace.
The desertion continued till late in the night. By late evening, a large posse of CRPF personnel were brought to the periphery of the ashram spread over 12 acres, where Rampal is believed to be hiding with the support of his “private army”.
The Centre also despatched 500 CRPF personnel to help the operations.
“We are going step by step. We will take the final step soon,” a senior police officer said, making it clear that authorities are preparing for the final assault.
Hisar Range IG A K Rao expressed hope to hunt down Rampal soon. “We will execute the NBW on Friday,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Centre appeared to be unhappy over the way the issue was being handled. Union Minister Rajnath Singh is understood to have told Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar to end the standoff quickly.
“The state government is proceeding carefully and cautiously to arrest Sant Rampal,” Khattar said later.
While the clashes on Tuesday left over 200 injured, police today announced that bodies of four women were handed over to them by the ashram staff.
Another woman and a one-and-a-half year old baby were taken in serious condition to a hospital where they died.
It was not clear what caused their death.
State police chief S N Vashisht said there were no external injuries and only a post-mortem will reveal the real reason of death.