Two killed in Haryana clash, buses torched

Rohtak: Two people, including a woman, were killed and 114 others injured in clashes between Arya Samaj protestors and police near this Haryana town today, police said. The protestors torched buses while opposing the re-opening of an ashram (sect premises) of a controversial godman near here.

The 114 injured, who were admitted to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) here, included nearly 50 police personnel, including women. At least six of the injured had gunshot injuries.

Police resorted to firing at the protestors after other measures, including cane charge and bursting tear-gas, 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. Rohtak is 70 km from national capital New Delhi.

The crowds, mostly activists from the Arya Samaj sect, were protesting against the opening of the Satlok Ashram headed by godman Rampal at Karontha village, 10 km from here. The protestors got support from residents of Karontha village who are also opposed to the ashram.

Hundreds of supporters of Rampal had gathered inside the ashram complex to respond to any attack on the premises. However, the Arya Samaj protestors could not get anywhere near the ashram as the police stopped them.

The protestors marched towards the ashram when they were stopped by police on the Rohtak-Jhajjar national highway.

Police officials said that the protestors went on a rampage and damaged public buses and police vehicles.

Police charged at the mobs with canes and fired tear-gas shells to disperse them and the protestors retaliated by pelting stones, an official said.

Tension had been brewing in the area for the past week following an opposition to the ashram by the Arya Samaj members.

“The situation at the spot is still tense. Adequate police reinforcements have arrived to control the situation,” a police officer said.

The controversy over the ashram erupted after the district authorities allowed the premises to be re-opened following an order of the Supreme Court.

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