Self-styled godman Rampal was on Thursday found guilty by a Hisar court in two separate cases of murder and other offences.
Hisar Additional District and Sessions Judge DR Chaliya held controversial godman Rampal along with 26 of his followers guilty of two murders and other offences, including wrongful confinement of his victims at his Satlok Ashram at Barwala in Hisar.
The quantum of punishment would be announced on October 16 and 17.
Rampal has been in prison since November 2014. A special court was set up inside Hisar’s Central Jail to pronounce the judgment via video-conference.
Rampal and 27 of his followers were booked on charges of murder and wrongful confinement after four women and a child were found dead in his Satlok Ashram on November 19, 2014. Another case was also registered against Rampal and his followers after a woman was found dead in his ashram on November 18.
The two cases against Rampal and his followers were lodged at Barwala police station on November 19, 2014. Besides the murder charges, the Barwala police had also invoked offences of wrongful confinement in the two FIRs.
Thousands of his followers had clashed with police when they had come to arrest him following directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court over contempt of court in 2014.
Rampal was arrested on November 19 on charges of murder, attempt to murder, conspiracy, holding illegal weapons and abetting suicide.
Born as Rampal Singh Jatin in September 1951 in Sonepat’s Dhanana village, Rampal once worked as an engineer in Haryana’s Irrigation Department. He later founded the Satlok Ashram in Haryana’s Rohtak and rose to become one of the most prominent leaders of Kabir Panth sect in the State.
Satlok Ashram’s media in-charge Chand Rathee said they would challenge the verdict before the High Court.
To prevent a repeat of the violence in Panchkula following the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in rape cases in 2017, more than 2,000 policemen were deployed in Hisar and Section 144 was also clamped on Thursday.
Earlier, the Hisar court in August 2017, had acquitted Rampal in two cases of wrongful confinement, unlawful assembly and disobedience to order given by a public servant.
Rampal was facing other cases of murder conspiracy, sedition and rioting. In 2014, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered the police to arrest Rampal after he failed to appear before the court in connection with a 2006 murder conspiracy case.
However, when police went to arrest him, Rampal and his aides had barricaded themselves and holed themselves up inside his Satlok Ashram. Rampal was arrested after a two-week long stand-off between his followers and police which had left six dead and several others injured.