People being held hostage inside ashram: Haryana police chief

Chandigarh, Nov 18:  Haryana Police on Tuesday said scores of people were being held hostage inside the Satlok Ashram complex of controversial sect leader Rampal and were not being allowed to leave, despite the administration asking them to vacate the premises.

Director General of Police (DGP) S.N. Vashisht said the administration has received several phone calls from people inside the ashram, saying they wanted to leave but were being prevented from doing so.

People held as hostages in Sant's ashram

"There are no deaths in the operation. A total of 109 policemen were injured in the operation, including gunshot injuries to nine policemen," Vashisht told media here.

"We have surrounded the ashram. Operation will continue. Don't know if it will end today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday)," the DGP said.

"Rampal and his supporters are instigating followers to resist police. We have asked people to leave the ashram. People called from inside and said they wanted to leave but were being stopped," the DGP said.

The ashram complex has been sealed by police

"People inside have weapons, petrol bombs, acid pouches, stones and bricks. There are ex-servicemen and former police officials who have trained the violent followers and helped in accumulation of weapons and ammunition," he said.

He said 50 youth followers of the sect tried to pour diesel and immolate themselves Tuesday.

The ashram complex has been sealed by police, he added.

Facing flak for the police attack on the media, Vashisht said: "If there was any error by anyone, we will investigate after operation is over. There was no order to break cameras or beat up media. Media is our ally."

Principal Secretary to the chief minister Sanjeev Kaushal said police used restraint in the operation.

"Police used a lot of restraint. They did not fire back despite being fired upon by sect followers. The ashram had stacked weapons, petrol bombs and acid pouches inside," Kaushal said.


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