New Delhi: The operation to smoke out and arrest controversial guru Rampal cost the exchequer heavily as various governments spent a total of Rs266.1 million (Dh15.7 million) on it.
A bench of Punjab and Haryana High court was informed that while the Haryana government spent the maximum Rs154.3 million, the Punjab government spent Rs43.4 million, Union Territory Chandigarh spent Rs32.9 million and the Union of India spent Rs35.5 million.
Rampal who was holed up at his Satlok ashram in the Barwala town of Haryana’s Hisar district was arrested on November 19 after violent clashes between the security forces and Rampal’s private army.
The bench of Justices M. Jeyapaul and Darshan Singh remanded Rampal to custody till December 23 when the court will hear the case again.
Rampal was produced in the court along with co-accused Ram Pal Dhaka and O.P. Hooda.
On November 20 when Rampal was produced before the court, the court had asked the Haryana Police to file an affidavit giving details of the operation carried out to arrest Rampal from his ashram in Barwala along with damages, injuries to people, details regarding arms and ammunition in the ashram and loss of property.
Haryana director general of police S.N. Vashisht submitted a detailed report about the operation with the expenditure incurred by various governments.
Interestingly, the court was not informed why and how other state governments spent money on the operation when it was known that Rampal was hiding inside his ashram in Haryana.
During his police remand, the Haryana Police took Rampal to his Barwala ashram and made more arrests and seized money and ammunitions along with pregnancy tests.
The court asked DGP Vashisht to submit medical reports of those injured in the operation and verify antecedents of 909 persons believed to be part of Rampal’s personal army along with whether any of them worked with the police or army in the past.
The police team was attacked with petrol bombs, acid pouches and were fired at by Rampal’s militia. The violence ended with the police managing to coax Rampal to come out of his ashram to prevent further violence. A total of five women and a child died as they got trapped inside the ashram during the standoff that lasted two weeks. Around 200 people were injured in the operation.
Police rescued about 15,000 of Rampal’s followers from the ashram.
Rampal was out on bail in a 2006 murder case in which he was accused of inciting his followers to fire at Arya Samaj protesters outside his Rohtak ashram in which one person was killed. He, however, failed to appear before the court leading to contempt of court charges and cancellation of his bail.
Rampal now faces additional cases including sedition charges in which he cannot get bail. It is widely believed that the controversial guru, a self proclaimed saint, may never walk out of the prison since he is already 63 years old and faces grave charges including waging war against the state and murder charges.