M A I N   N E W S

Haryana Police close in on Rampal as supporters hold fort
Deepender Deswal
Tribune News Service

Barwala (Hisar), November 15
Religious head Rampal remained holed up inside the Satlok Ashram for the 10th day today as the Haryana Police called in a unit of the CRPF's Rapid Action Force (RAF) in Barwala late on Saturday night to storm the ashram.

The CRPF's unit has been stationed five kilometres from the ashram. The Punjab and Haryana High Court issued non-bailable warrants against Rampal on November 5 and again on November 10 directing the police to produce him in court on November 17.

Earlier in the day, the police held a flag march in front of the ashram. Top police officers, who accompanied the contingent in their vehicles, assessed the ground situation.

The police have asked people living within 3-km radius of the ashram to evacuate and move to safer places. Eateries along the 6-km stretch on the national highway from Barwala town to Gabipur village have also been closed down, sources said. Backroom dialogue is on between the district administration and a delegation of Rampal followers. Deputy Commissioner ML Kaushik met the delegation but refused to disclose details.

Kaushik said: "We want a peaceful solution. I have been urging them to follow the directions of the court. We are holding a dialogue and they too are responding in a positive way."

Rampal's aide Ram Kumar Dhaka confirmed they held talks with the administration.

Sources say if the talks fail, the police may raid the ashram on Sunday to arrest Rampal, who has to be produced in court on Monday.

Despite deployment of force, suspense remains over the timing of strike by the police at the ashram, where Rampal is holed up amid tight security of his followers.

ADGP (law and order) Muhammad Akil, IGP (Hisar range) Anil Kumar Rao and Superintendents of Police from Hisar and neighbouring districts are closely monitoring the situation.





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