Rohtak villagers refuse to bury dead, demand action against ashram

Rohtak ClashThe clash worsened after the mob began hurling stones and police had to cane them. (IE Photo)

A day after three people died of bullet injuries during protests against the reopening of the ashram of a controversial religious leader, Kharoda village in Rohtak district remained tense Monday as villagers refused to cremate the victims and blocked the Rohtak-Jhajjar highway by laying the bodies in the middle of the road.

The bodies were handed over to their families early Monday morning after the postmortem was conducted at the PGI hospital in Rohtak but the families said they would be cremated only when their demands are met.

Trouble erupted in the area Sunday morning when police tried to stop villagers, most of them supporters of the Arya Samaj, from marching towards the Satlok Ashram of Sant Rampal.

The mob torched three Haryana roadways buses, several police motorbikes, an ambulance, shops and tankers on the Rohtak-Jhajjar highway. The clash worsened after the mob began hurling stones and police had to cane them. More than 60 police personnel, including 32 women, and dozens of protestors sustained injuries including some from gunshots.

The villagers said they were unarmed and accused the police and Rampal's followers of opening fire. But the police said the villagers opened fire first and that a case had been registered against them.

As the situation remained tense on Monday, there was heavy police deployment in the area with five companies of the CRPF and three companies of the BSF brought in to manage the situation. However, more than 1,000 protesters from 12 villages in the district camped on the highway with lathis in their hands demanding Rampal's eviction.

"My sister is a martyr. She was killed by Rampal's disciples. We will not cremate her body until we get justice. This scamster who is hiding in his four-acre ashram will have to leave the village or we are ready for anything. Either we will kill or we will die," said Munni, the sister of Pramila, one of the dead.

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