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Indian sect leader in custody after violence resisting arrest

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Indian sect leader in custody after violence resisting arrest


A cult leader in India is finally behind bars, along with some 450 of his acolytes, following a police siege of his fortified compound.

Satguru Rampalji Maharaj has been charged with sedition and waging war against the state.

On Wednesday evening, the five-hectare Satlok Ashram on the outskirts of Hisar city in north-western India west of the capital, New Delhi, was stormed using tear gas, water cannon and bulldozers.

Resistance to the several thousand police officers involved in the operation included men throwing bottles of acid from rooftops.

Some 10,000 followers of Rampal were led away. A judge ordered Rampal’s arrest last week after the 63-year-old former engineer had ignored more than 40 court summons in connection with a murder case.

“All allegations against me are false,” Rampal said.

Officials said police found the bodies of five women and one infant, without a mark on them.

Rampal is also accused of telling supporters to open fire on a crowd of villagers in 2006; one of them was killed and six were wounded. Until his re-arrest, he had been released on bail.

Rampal’s sect worships 15th-century mystic poet Kabir.

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