Rampal

Rampal
Born Name: Rampal Singh Jatain
Date of Birthday: 8 September 1951
Place of Birth: Dhanana village, Punjab (now Sonipat, Haryana), India
Other names: Baba Rampal, Sant Rampal, Rampal Dass, Satguru Rampal Ji Maharaj, Saint Rampal Ji Maharaj
Education: Diploma in Civil Engineering
Alma mater: Govt. Polytechnic Nilokheri
Occupation: Leader of religious sect
Spouse: Anaro Devi
Parents: Bhakt Nandram, Bhaktmati Indradevi
Organization: Satlok Ashram
Notable work: Way of Living
Predecessor: Swami Ramdevanand
Criminal status: in prison for Murders; under trial for Sedition
Conviction(s): Murder, 11 October 2018
Criminal charge; Murder, Sedition (under trial)
Penalty: Life imprisonment
Capture status: Arrested
Details
Country: India
State(s): Haryana
Date apprehended: 19 November 2014
Imprisoned at: Hisar Central Jail-2
Official Website: jagatgururampalji.org

Rampal (born Rampal Singh Jatain on 8 September 1951) is an Indian religious leader from Kabir Panth. He is a disciple of Swami Ramdevanand Ji who was a Garib Das panthi Saint (GaribDas Panth is connected to Kabir Panth). He was initiated from him on February 17, 1988. In 1994, Swami Ramdevanand chose him the successor. He claims that Kabir is the Supreme God. He preaches against meat-eating, intoxication, dowry, temple/deity worship, adultery, and unnecessary donation/charity, etc. His followers established Satlok Ashram in 1999 in Rohtak, Haryana.

In 2006, Rampal publicly objected to certain parts of Satyarth Prakash, a central book of Arya Samaj. In July 2006, a violent confrontation between the followers of Arya Samaj and the Rampal supporters at Satlok Ashram in Karontha led to death of an Arya Samaj follower. Rampal was charged with murder and arrested. After spending 21 months in jail, he was released on bail in 2008. In November 2014, he was again arrested on a contempt of court case. The confrontation between his followers and police led to the death of 6 people. He was charged with wrongful confinement, murder, sedition, and other charges. He was convicted in the murder in Barwala case. The sedition case is undertrial. He has been acquitted in the rest of the cases of the 2014 incident.

Early life
Rampal was born in Dhanana, a village in the Gohana tehsil of Sonepat district, Punjab (part of Haryana since 1966). His father Bhakt Nandlal was a farmer, and his mother Indro Devi was a housewife.

He obtained a diploma in Civil engineering from Govt. Polytechnic Nilokheri, and then worked as a junior engineer for 18 years in the Government of Haryana's Irrigation department. In 1995, he resigned from the job.

Rampal is married to Anaro Devi. They have two sons, viz. Manoj and Virender, and two daughters, viz. Anju and Manju. The family lived in the Barwala ashram until the siege.

Initiation into Yatharth Kabir panth
According to his official biography, Rampal was an ardent devotee of the Hindu deities Hanuman, Krishna and Khatushyam. He states that he never achieved salvation, well-being or peace as a result of this devotion. One day, he met Swami Ramdevanand, a spiritual leader of the Garib das panth, which is a Kabir panth. Swami Ramdevanand told him that he could not attain salvation through the prevalent religious practices, which were a "false web" spread by the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, along with their parents Brahm ("Kaal Niranjan") and Durga ("Ashtangi Aadi Maya").

Rampal states that he then studied several spiritual books, including Bhagavad Gita, Kabir Sagar, Sad Granth Saheb by Garib Das, and "all the Puranas". He claims to have found evidence supporting the statements of Swami Ramdevanand in these books. He took initiation from him on 17 February 1988. He claims that he, then, started an intense jaap (meditative repetition of naam or god's name), after which he started experiencing "mental peace and extreme happiness".

In 1993, Swami Ramdevanand asked him to start delivering Sermons. In 1994, Swami Ramdevanand chose him the successor. He gained local popularity by touring various villages and cities in Haryana. He became so busy that he resigned from his job in May 1995. His resignation was formally accepted in 2000, with effect from 1995.

Satlok Ashram
In 1999, Rampal founded the Satlok Ashram in Karotha village of Rohtak district, drawing on his following from within the Kabir panth.

During the 2000s and 2010s, he established several other ashrams, and gained followers in Rohtak and Jhajjar districts of Haryana.

Court case
In 2006, Rampal raised objections to certain parts of Satyarth Prakash, the central text of the Arya Samaj religious sect. He termed these parts as "impractical and anti-social". This angered the followers of Arya Samaj, who surrounded his ashram, eventually resulting in a clash between the followers of two sects on 12 July 2006. During the clash, one person named Sonu was shot dead, and 59 more were injured. Rampal was charged with murder and attempted, and jailed for 21 months. His followers claim that he was falsely implicated in the case and demanded the CBI investigation. Rampal was forced to vacate the Karontha ashram.

Another complaint of forgery was filed against him a day after the 2006 clashes. According to this complaint, the sale of land for his Karontha ashram was fabricated using impersonation. Rampal's followers claim that they had no role to play in this impersonation, and the person who sold the land was at fault. On 1 May 2018, the court acquitted Rampal and his followers Rajender and Ravinder Dhaka in the land grab case registered in 2006.

After Rampal was released on bail in 2008, he set up his base in Barwala, Hisar. In 2009, the High Court returned the Karontha ashram to him. An appeal against the judgement was filed by Haryana government and Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, but was rejected by the apex court in February 2013. On 1 May 2018, Judicial Magistrate Harish Goyal of Rohtak Court acquitted Rampal and three others in Karontha Ashram land forgery case and rather held the complainants guilty.

After obtaining bail, Rampal did not appear in court regularly, for trial in the murder case. He was exempted from appearing by the court. His followers were inside the karontha ashram when Arya Samaj-affiliated villagers in an attempt to attack the ashram clashed with the police protecting the ashram in May 2013, which resulted in death of 3 people, including policemen and around 100 people were injured. Unable to check the villagers, the police forced Rampal followers to leave the Karontha ashram, and move to Barwala ashram. Arya Samaj activists demanded his arrest and trial. On 14 May 2014, he appeared in the Hisar court through a video link. On this occasion, his followers entered the court premises and created chaos. Rampal is a controversial preacher but has large number of followers in Haryana state of India and in other parts of Northern India.

In July 2014, some Arya Samaji lawyers clashed with Rampal's followers that again disrupted the court proceedings. In September 2014, Rampal was asked to appear before the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh, in a contempt of court case. The local administration imposed Section 144 and deployed 2,000 police personnel to prevent his followers from entering the city. Despite this, thousands of followers gathered in the city, although Rampal did not appear before the court.

During 2010–14, Rampal didn't appear in court hearings 42 times. Since, he was given 'exemption from appearance' by the court to maintain the law and order situation. In 2014, the Punjab and Haryana High Court issued non-bailable arrest warrants against him after his followers were alleged of disrupting court's proceedings. When the police tried to detain him on 9 November, his followers formed human chains outside the Satlok Ashram to prevent the police from arresting him. The police tried to initiate a dialogue, and asked him to surrender. Rampal's followers announced that the police will have to kill more than 100,000 followers before arresting him.

By 18 November, his Satlok ashram in Hisar was protected by thousands of his followers who wielded lathis, and flags reading "SatSaheb" (the word they use for Supreme God). The ashram was also protected by thousands of women devotees who blocked the entrance for several days, which prevented the police from entering it. More than 20,000 security personnel and police forced their way into the ashram, but they could not find Rampal for arrest. The police used earth movers to break wall on rear side of ashram to find him, but were opposed by large number of followers who injured 28 police personnel in an effort to halt their entry. A large number of media personnel was also hit by the police. The bodies of five women and an 18-month-old child were found in his ashram.

Rampal was arrested on the night of 19 November 2014, along with more than 900 of his followers, on charges including sedition, murder, attempt to murder, conspiracy, hoarding illegal weapons, wrongful confinement, and aiding and abetting suicide-mongers. His followers demanded CBI investigation of the whole incident. A special court of Hisar, Haryana, on 26 July 2021 released Sant Rampal Ji Maharaj and 4 others of all the charges and held them acquitted in the Drugs and Cosmetics case.

Conviction
On 29 August 2017, Rampal was found not guilty and acquitted in two cases related to wrongful confinement and obstruction of duty by Hisar court, yet, he continued to remain in judicial custody as the cases of murder and sedition were still ongoing.

On 11 October 2018, Rampal was found guilty of murder in two cases with FIR no. 429 and 430. Both cases pertain to the death of five women and an eighteen-month-old infant at his Satlok Ashram in Barwala in 2014 during clashes between his supporters and police. On 16 October 2018, all the convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment along with ₹2 Lakh fine each for the case 429 of murder of four women during the Satlok standoff. The then Additional District and Sessions Judge D.R. Chalia pronounced the punishment for Rampal and fourteen of his followers of life imprisonment and also a fine of ₹1 lakh each was imposed separately for murder and criminal conspiracy. The convicts were also awarded a sentence of two years imprisonment and fined ₹5,000 each for wrongful confinement. The jail terms were pronounced to run concurrently.

Teachings
Rampal claims to be an incarnation of Kabir, whom he considers to be the supreme god. He claims that all the major religious scriptures — including Vedas, Gita, Quran, Bible and Guru Granth Sahib — name Kabir as the supreme god. His followers consider him an incarnation of Kabir himself. He claims to be the initiator of the thirteenth Kabir Panth, which, he says, will transform earth into heaven and bring the golden era with his knowledge and worship.

Rampal preaches against temple visits, Dowry, idol worship, unnecessary donations, untouchability, adultery, and "vulgar singing and dancing". He is strictly against the consumption of meat, tobacco, and alcohol as he says that it incurs great sin and causes immense suffering in next lives. He takes guarantee to salvage his disciples to Satlok (which he calls the supreme abode) and ending all their sufferings if they followed all the rules of worship laid down by him.


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Categories: Indian religious leaders, People from Sonipat district, 1951 births, Indian prisoners and detainees, Indian people convicted of murder
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