A tragic series of events played out in Northern India this week at the ashram of controversial guru Sant Rampal. The Indian police’s efforts to enter the compound of the leader charged with a 2006 murder devolved into a warzone-like scene with the hordes of followers guarding it Tuesday. The officers used tear gas, batons, and water cannons in an attempt to sway the supporters wielding stones, guns, acid, and other weapons, Aljazeera reported. More than 100 officers were reportedly injured before police managed to detain Rampal late Wednesday.
Tragic Scene at the Ashram
Before gaining entry Wednesday afternoon, police were handed the bodies of four women and a child from inside the compound and at least two other casualties have been reported. Thousands of people were said to be fleeing the ashram overnight and on Wednesday, many of whom had seemingly been held there against their will. Thousands more are said to still be inside. Police cut off water and electricity and blocked roads to the ashram in an attempt to force Rampal out of hiding earlier this week.
Who Is Sant Rampal?
Rampal Dass was working as an engineer just a couple decades ago before declaring himself an incarnation of the 15th century Indian poet Kabir. He garnered a huge following and was given the reverent title "sant" in short order. The 2006 murder for which the police want to question the leader was reportedly the result of a violent clash between his supporters and another group. He is to appear in court tomorrow.
Our hearts go out to the victims and their families and hold the hope for an immediate end to the violence.