Barwala (Haryana): A large number of followers of 'godman' Rampal, who had been holed up in his ashram here for days, came out today and narrated how they were virtually confined there along with "thousands" more who too were "desperately" wanting to leave the premises.
Hailing from various parts of the country, the followers claimed that "private commandos" of Rampal had been "forcing" them not to leave, but they managed to persuade and come out. Haryana Director General of Police S N Vashisht told reporters that about 15,000 people were inside the ashram, out of which 10,000 have come out.
"We had come to the ashram for a 'Satsang' (religious gathering) a few days back. Later, we were asked to stay back and were not allowed to come out. The private commandos said that we will be safe inside and will be provided with food and taken care of.
However, we persisted that we needed to go out to get some medicines and somehow managed to come out this morning," Birender, hailing from Gwalior, who came out of the ashram in a group that included his mother, told reporters.
He claimed that while a "few thousand" followers of the engineer-turned-godman had managed to come out of the Ashram since yesterday, "still a huge number, which could run into thousands, are still inside".
Earlier this week, Punjab and Haryana High Court gave the government time till Friday to produce Rampal in contempt of court case, after which authorities have been asking the devotees in and around the Satlok Ashram to disperse and help them comply with court order.
A middle-aged woman follower from Uttar Pradesh, who came out of the ashram today, said "Many women with babies as young
as two year old were also inside" and ration supplies were running "very low". Hisar SP Satender Kumar Gupta said the police and civil administration was assisting the followers to reach destinations.
The district administration has pressed into service buses to transport the followers to the bus stand and the railway station for their onward journey. Today, several Haryana Roadways buses could be seen parked along the roads close to the Ashram, to ferry the followers who wish to travel to the Hisar bus stand and the Railway station.
Meanwhile, several people from many villages of Barwala had volunteered to provide food and other items to the followers, security personnel and the media crews covering the event.