Arms, petrol bombs, chilli grenade found in Rampal's Satlok Ashram

 A huge cache of arms and ammunition, petrol bombs, acid syringes and a chilli grenade were found inside the highly-fortified Satlok Ashram from where 'godman' Rampal was "smoked out".

PTI| Last Updated: Nov 22, 2014, 00:50 AM IST
Arms, petrol bombs, chilli grenade found in Rampal's Satlok Ashram

Chandigarh: A huge cache of arms and ammunition, petrol bombs, acid syringes and a chilli grenade were found inside the highly-fortified Satlok Ashram from where 'godman' Rampal was "smoked out".

The shocking details came to the fore today during a search conducted by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Haryana Police, which also found a pregnancy test strip from a room adjacent to the one of Rampal in the Ashram.

The police also found a woman lying unconscious and locked in a bathroom. She was admitted to general hospital. She has been identified as Bijlesh, a resident of Ashok Nagar village in Madhya Pradesh.

As the search operation was on, police took into custody three persons hiding in the premises, from where the controversial 63-year-old engineer-turned-preacher was arrested on Wednesday in a murder case.

Giving this information here, a spokesman of the Police Department said the team had recovered three .32 bore revolvers, 19 air guns, two DBBL 12 bore, two .315 bore rifles, 28 cartridges of .32 bore, 50 cartridges of 12 bore and 25 cartridges of .315 bore.

Most of the weapons were kept in bags and almirahs in two secret rooms. In the centre of the Ashram, Rampal had an elevated structure on which he had his seat. The ammunition was stored under the structure so that no one could suspect the location.

A private swimming pool, state-of-the-art elevators and 24 AC rooms with one having a massage bed were found during the police operation to nab the "mouse" -- the code name used for Rampal.

The team also found helmets and sticks and 20 pairs of black dresses and two tanks containing 800 litres of diesel and catapult.

The three persons found hiding in the Ashram have been identified as Yaadram, resident of Jakhli, district Badaun, UP, Ravi, resident of Kharati, Chhattisgarh, and Ramesh, resident of Dhani Sillanwali, district Bhiwani in Haryana.

The Ashram, built like a fortress, is surrounded by high walls with watchtowers. A special room was set up within the Ashram for his securitymen comprising private commandos.

The sprawling complex was found to be under constant surveillance with CCTV cameras installed at several key-points to keep a tab on the movements of devotees, who largely came from low-income strata.

At the entrance of Ashram, spread over 12 acres adjacent to Chandigarh-Hissar national highway in Hissar district of Haryana, police found metal detectors to check the devotees.

A huge amount of eatables recovered during the search operation was being disposed off by the Food and Supplies Department in compliance with the orders of high court.

The spokesman said that the search operation would continue for a few days more due as the Ashram area was vast.

There are two tanks about 14 feet deep full of water which would be cleared to carry out the complete search.

The AC rooms in the Ashram, which could be compared to a starred hotel or a farm house, had attached bathrooms fitted with top-of-the line fixtures. One of the rooms had a massage bed, while another a treadmill.

The 'satsang' (prayer) hall in the complex, which came up in four years, is the centerpiece of the Ashram having a sitting capacity for 50,000 people.

Rampal used to sit in a hydraulic chair to deliver sermons from a bullet proof enclosure as his private militia stood guard.

During the course of the operation, police stumbled upon the private swimming pool in his four-storey residential building, fitted with several air conditioners.

The Ashram ran a well-stocked kitchen that could cater to one lakh people for a month. The complex can accommodate one lakh followers at a time.

An electronic roti-making machine, having a capacity of preparing about 1,000 breads at a time, was found.

During the Satsang, Rampal's aides used to collect food material to feed the devotees.

In the Satsang Hall, there was a special enclosure fitted with thick-glass from where Rampal used to deliver "spiritual instructions" to his devotees who were mainly from Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Haryana and Rajasthan.

The hall is surrounded by an about three-foot-high wall and iron railings. One side of the hall used to be reserved for men and the other for women devotees and children.

Rampal used to be elevated to the bulletproof cabin in the hall by means of a hydraulic lift. The hall had 3D projection facilities to screen Rampal's sermons.

The Ashram also has a medical block and a modern hospital.

A special room was set up within the Ashram for his securitymen comprising private commandos. The complex was found to be under constant surveillance with CCTVs installed at several key-points to keep a tab on devotees' movements.

The "fortress" saw bloody clashes on Tuesday as police tried to storm the complex to arrest Rampal for contempt of court after he repeatedly failed to appear in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a 2006 murder case.

The spokesman said that seven separate cases had been registered against the Rampal and his followers. The accused have been taken on five-day police remand.

As many as 865 accused have been arrested under these cases and nine others have also been taken on police remand, he added.