Tension continues in Rohtak, death toll reaches three

Rohtak (Haryana): Tension continued in Karontha village near this Haryana town today and security personnel trawled the streets after clashes between police and Arya Samaj supporters protesting the reopening of an ashram of a controversial godman.

The death toll from Sunday’s violence reached three with one person succumbing to his injuries at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) here, police said.

Nearly 120 people, including over 50 police personnel, were injured in clashes between Arya Samaj protestors and police near this Haryana town, about 200 km from the state capital Chandigarh and 70 km from New Delhi.

Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda ordered a magisterial inquiry into Sunday’s violence and appealed for peace.

“The situation is tense but under control at Karontha village. Five companies of CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) have been deputed near the Satlok Ashram to maintain law and order situation. Efforts are being made to sort out the issue. The DGP himself is keeping a close tab on the situation,” Rohtak Inspector General of Police (IGP) Anil Rao told.

He confirmed that the death toll rose to three as another injured man succumbed to his injuries late Sunday evening.

Police resorted to firing at the protestors Sunday after other measures, including teargas shells, failed to curb the violence, said police officials, claiming that some people among the protestors also fired at police.

Angry mobs clashed with police and set three Haryana Roadways buses and an ambulance on fire during the violent protest. At least 10 other vehicles, including two-wheelers, were also damaged. The protestors also set a liquor vend on fire.

The crowds, mostly activists from the Arya Samaj sect, were protesting the opening of the Satlok Ashram headed by godman Rampal at Karontha village, 10 km from here. The protestors got support from the villagers.

“There is tension in the area. Adequate police and paramilitary force has been stationed near the ashram. No protestor is being allowed to reach anywhere near the ashram,” a police officer said.

Tension had been brewing between the Arya Samaj supporters and the controversial godman and his followers since 2006. The ashram was shut down in 2006 following violence. The Arya Samaj supporters had alleged that Rampal had been using derogatory and insulting language against the Arya Samaj. The authorities allowed reopening of the ashram following orders of the Supreme Court recently.

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