Self-styled “Godman” Rampal acquitted in rioting case

Just after Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s verdict, another verdict has come out today. Rampal has been cleared of charges.

“He has been acquitted in the two cases (426 and 427). It’s a victory of truth”, said his lawyer. However, he will not be released from the jail yet as there are two other cases of murder and sedition pending against him.

Two cases against Rampal, who considers himself a descendant of Kabir and his followers were registered three years ago. The first one under sections 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of his public function), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty) and 353 (assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty) of the Indian Penal Code.

And the second case was against Rampal and Purshotam Dass, Raj Kumar, Mohinder Singh, Rajender Singh, Rahul and 30-40 other persons under  IPC Sections 147 (Rioting), 149 (Unlawful assembly, every other member of such assembly shall be guilty of the offence), 188 (disobedient to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant) and 342 (Wrongfully confining any person).

Interestingly, he was working as a junior engineer in the irrigation department of Haryana government before he turned into a ‘spiritual guru’.

He is the founder and head of a religious sect called Kabir Panth and his followers call him ‘Jagatguru Rampal ji’, ‘Sant Rampal ji’ or ‘Rampal Dasji’.

His has a website that claims he has lakhs of followers in Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal etc states. It claims they have given up alcohol, marijuana, smoking, meat, egg etc after taking “Satnaam Updesh” from him.

Things went downhill for Rampal when in 2006 he had raised objections to certain portions of the Satyarth Prakash, the core central text of the Arya Samaj. This had led to clashes between the two sects. Followers of Arya Samaj had tried to forcibly shut Rampal’s ashram in Karontha village in Rohtak. Rampal’s followers had allegedly opened fire on villagers. The clash had left three people dead and 160 others injured.

Rampal was charged with murder and spent 22 months in prison. He was released on bail in 2008 but did not attend court hearings regularly after that. He skipped court 42 times between 2010 and 2014.

His lawyers claimed that it was not his fault that he couldn’t show up, it was because his followers kept him captive inside the Ashram in Barwala. Eventually, the police had to execute an operation to evict Rampal and his followers and present him in front of the court. They had to disconnect power, cut on water and food supply. During the siege, five women and a baby died.

Since then, the hearings in the cases have been proceeding at a special court set up in the Hisar Central Jail.

 

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