Stand-off over ashram ends, CRPF takes over

Hooda orders probe by additional district magistrate

The disputed Satlok Ashram was completely evacuated on Wednesday, ending the stand-off between self-styled godman Rampal’s followers and Arya Samaj activists.

Arya Samaj activists also cremated the body of 40-year-old Promilla in Karantha village, some 12 km from here. She was killed in the clash on Sunday. The protesters had earlier placed Promilla’s body near a village road, saying they would not consign it to flames till the ashram was totally cleared of Rampal’s supporters.

The issue was resolved peacefully after holding parleys with both parties, said Rohtak deputy commissioner Vikas Gupta. Security ofa Satlok Ashram has been handed over to the CRPF.

The district authorities sealed the ashram by locking its main gate after transporting the remaining 500 followers of controversial preacher Rampal to Barwala town in Hisar by Haryana Roadways buses.

Nearly 4,000 followers were evacuated on Tuesday evening, while some 500 refused to leave. The deputy commissioner said the CRPF, deployed in the trouble-torn village in the wake of Sunday’s violence, has been entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring security of Satlok Ashram.

The row over possession of the ashram took a violent turn on Sunday when police tried to stop activists of Arya Pratinidhi Sabha from marching towards the dera of the controversial godman.

Three persons were killed and over 100, including 50 policemen, injured in clashes between police and protesters. Tension had been brewing in the area for some time as the Arya Samajis claimed that Rampal’s ownership of the ashram was illegal.

Opposition blames it on government

Haryana’s main opposition party INLD on Wednesday blamed the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government for Sunday’s violence in Karontha village, saying that the administration had failed to heed the warning signs and allowed the situation to slip out of control, reports PTI from Chandigarh.

“It is a complete failure of the Hooda government and failure on part of the chief minister and his son (Rohtak MP Deepinder Singh) to react in time to the (developments). The incident occurred in the backyard of the CM’s home district and the administration still failed to act in time,” said Abhay Singh Chautala, senior Indian National Lok Dal leader and MLA.

Chautala said the party will meet Governor Jagannath Pahadia and seek the dismissal of the Hooda government for its failure to deal satisfactorily with the Karontha situation. The party has already demanded the chief minister’s resignation over the issue on moral grounds.

“No effort was made by the state government to reach out (either) to the Arya Samaj or the ashram. If talks had been held with both sides, the loss of lives and injuries could have been avoided,” added Chautala.

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