Bullet-proof enclosure, swimming pool: The unholy world of 'Godman' Rampal
Barwala (Haryana): Holy men do not need bullet-proof enclosures or SUVs. Nor do they need swimming pools for personal luxury or tonnes of rations that could sustain hundreds of people for months. Or gym equipment, flat-screen TVs, split air-conditioners, massage therapy beds and big personal lockers. But for controversial sect leader Rampal, these things and many more were just part of his 'saintly' lifestyle.
These are some of the things that police and authorities in Haryana's Hisar district have found after they got a first look into Rampal's luxury world inside his Satlok Ashram near Barwala.
For the authorities, every second thing was a revelation about Rampal's fancy world.
Officials said they were still counting because they have still not been able to reach every corner of the ashram spread over 12 acres of land.
Police entered the premises Thursday evening after obtaining search warrants from a magistrate.
Rampal is believed to have been living in a five-storey house in one part of the ashram complex which was secured from the rest of the area. The building was also home to his close aides.
The enclosure of self-styled 'godman' Rampal Maharaj is pictured at the ashram in Barwala in the district of Hisar, some 175 kilometres north of Delhi (Pic/AFP)
"The entire building had luxury fittings from granite tiles, marble flooring, fancy grills, strong doors, well equipped bathrooms with modern fittings, split air-conditioners, flat-screen TVs and even massage beds. The personal rooms were big ones," a police officer inside Rampal's house told IANS.
The junior engineer-turned-godman even had a 25-metre personal pool to himself.
Though the pool did not have water Thursday because of winter, ashram sources said Rampal and others enjoyed the luxury.
Among other things, police found big personal lockers and safes of a leading brand.
Dedicated places were marked for charging mobile phones by hundreds of followers coming to the ashram.
Controversial guru Rampal Maharaj behind bars at a police station in Panchkula near Chandigarh (Pic/AFP)
A public address system was available to get messages across to particular areas of the complex.
The ashram also had an in-house hospital with the latest equipment.
"We are trying to find some hidden areas of the ashram complex. We have been told that Rampal had an underground world as well," a police head constable said.
The ashram complex had a 20-feet wall all around for fortification. It was this wall that the security forces found hard to penetrate when they tried to enter the complex Tuesday.
Ashram followers claimed that Rampal had made provisions for being bathed in milk while he meditated and the same milk was used to prepare kheer (rice-based sweet), which was served to the followers saying this will bring happiness in their lives.
Ration stocks found at the ashram could last hundreds of people for months. Up to 10,000 people could have food at the same time.
Hundreds of mattresses and quilts in the huge Satsang hall were used for lodging his followers.
"The stocks of ration show that the ashram authorities were prepared for a long haul or stand-off," a police officer said.
Before being arrested Wednesday after a 10-day stand-off, Rampal ensured that most rooms and areas of his luxury home were sealed with plywood and had locks on the doors.
While the locks are now being opened by police to uncover Rampal's luxury world, the self-styled godman finds himself in the police lock-up!