NewZNew (Hisar) : In 2000, Rampal Dass, a junior engineer in the Haryana irrigation department was sacked. He now heads a dera or cult worth Rs. 100 crores and goes by the name of Sarguru Rampal Ji Maharaj.
The 63-year-old owns a fleet of luxury cars, including BMWs and Mercedes and lives in an ashram in Barwala, Haryana, spread over a sprawling 12 acres. Charged with sedition or waging war against the nation, the controversial guru was finally arrested by the police on Wednesday night.
Five women and a baby have died at the ashram, where his followers, who call themselves ‘Baba’s Commandos’, clashed with the police on Tuesday, using acid, bombs and guns to prevent his arrest ordered by a High Court.
The police said earlier on Wednesday that they were not able to storm the ashram as Rampal has been using women and children as shields.The ashram’s walls are over 30 feet high and two feet wide.
Inside, it is said to have air-conditioned rooms for important followers of Rampal and even lecture halls equipped with LED screens for the self-styled Godman, who has a Facebook page and a YouTube channel where recordings of his sermons can be viewed.
The Facebook page has recorded over 2,000 new likes in the last one day. Rampal is said to have over 25 lakh followers in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Delhi. He has been to jail on the charge of murder and had been on bail. When his original ashram in Rohtak, also in Haryana, was attached, he relocated his headquarters to Barwala. Another ashram is under construction in Barwala not far away. He is said to own property in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and also in Delhi.
Born in a family of farmers in Haryana’s Sonepat, not far from Delhi, Rampal Dass got a diploma in engineering and was a junior engineer till the age of 48, when he was removed for “carelessness”.
In the last four years, he has skipped court 43 times.