206 people injured in Barwala, Centre seeks report

barwala-satlok-ashram-standAs many as 206 people, including 76 police personnel, were injured in clashes at self-styled godman Rampal’s ashram in Haryana on Tuesday as police lobbed teargas and used batons to disperse hundreds of stone-throwing supporters who vowed to prevent his arrest.

The Centre on Tuesday sought a report from the Haryana government regarding clashes between police and self styled godman Rampal in Hisar even as the Haryana police action to arrest the so called Sant at Barwala Ashram in Hisar turned volatile today.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh has expressed concern over the attack on media at Sant Rampal’s Ashram in Hisar. Talking to media in New Delhi this evening, Singh said, the Centre has sought a detailed report over the incident. Thousands of Rampal supporters clashed with police and opened fire and hurled crude bombs and stones at the police.

Briefing media persons at Chandigarh this evening, Haryana DGP S N Vashisth said that police will continue with its operation till Rampal is arrested and is produced in the High Court. DGP said that thousands of supporters are still inside the Ashram and police is trying to safely execute the operation without hurting the followers. He said, Police only used tear Gas and lathi charged the mob and did not use firearm at all during the operation. According to him, large number of women and children are still inside the Ashram and their safety is their priority.

DGP said that police received calls from some followers and they complained of illegal confinement by Rampal supporters. He said about hundred policemen and supporters were injured during the operation and two of the policemen have received bullet injuries. Speaking about the attack on Media persons by policemen, he said, the State Police respects the media and will initiate investigation in the matter once the operation comes to an end. Rampal supporters today staged a demonstration at Jantar Mantar also in the national capital demanding withdrawal of police from outside the Ashram in Hisar. They said that the allegations against him are false.

The National Human Rights Commission has taken cognizance of a complaint that some journalists were beaten by police personnel when they were covering the Police proceedings to arrest Rampal at his Ashram. Accordingly, a notice has been issued to the Haryana DGP, calling for a report in the matter within two weeks.

Meanwhile, BJP today accused Congress of politicising the violence that erupted in Hisar over the issue of arrest of self styled Godman Rampal. BJP Secretary Shrikant Sharma told media in New Delhi that the operation carried out by police was to implement the court orders which have been pending for the past four years. He alleged that the previous Congress government did not act over the court order. Mr. Sharma said no one is above the law and Rampal should respect it.

Cutting across party lines, leaders of different parties have criticised the incident. Describing the incident as unacceptable and unfortunate, Congress leader Ajay Maken said the assault on media demonstrates that the state Government did not wish to be put under media scrutiny in handling the crisis. Talking to AIR, BJP spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain also condemned the attack and said it is unfortunate that media persons got injured in the incident. CPI leader Atul Anjan told AIR that it seems that the BJP government has no faith in fourth estate of the democracy.

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