Police on Wednesday arrested a guru after a violent stand-off with thousands of followers at his sprawling ashram in northern India, where the bodies of four women and a child have been found. Supporters of self-styled “godman” Rampal Maharaj, who is wanted on a series of charges including conspiracy to murder, had guarded the ashram for days armed with stones, petrol bombs and other weapons after a court ordered his arrest.
Police finally detained him late Wednesday, more than 24 hours after they stormed the heavily guarded ashram using water cannon and tear gas. Ranjit Singh, a local police spokesman, told AFP the 63-year-old had been taken away from the ashram in an ambulance and would be sent for medical checks before appearing before a court.
More than 100 people are being treated in hospital after clashes between followers and police who forced their way into the compound 175 kilometres (108 miles) north-east of New Delhi, where Rampal was hiding out. SN Vashisht, the director general of police for Haryana state, said earlier Wednesday that officers had found the bodies of four women and a child in the ashram.
The child appeared to have died of natural causes but it was unclear how or when the four women lost their lives, and a post-mortem will be performed on their bodies. Another woman died after being taken to hospital apparently suffering from a heart condition, Vashisht said. It remains unclear how many people were holed up in the ashram with Rampal, but thousands have poured out of the 4.8-hectare (12-acre) compound since police stormed in on Tuesday.