Police storm accused godman Rampal's ashram in Haryana

Policed in Haryana's Hisar stormed the sprawling ashram of self-styled godman Rampal, 63, only to find no sign of the guru, who has been hiding there for some weeks, using women and children as shields. Ashram sources say five women and three men have been killed in the police action. Some 200 people including women and infants sat outside the ashram as a human wall and armed devotees calling themselves "Baba's Commandos" tried to hold off police, armed with acid, sticks and stones. Police later called off their search saying the ashram is built like a maze in which deadly traps are laid. To try to force Rampal out of hiding, the district has stopped water and power supplies to the ashram and have blocked food deliveries. Rampal, an engineer turned guru, has ignored court summons to appear for questioning in the 2006 killing of a villager by his supporters. The court has now ordered Rampal's immediate arrest, and Haryana's ruling BJP also sent its leaders to try to persuade the guru to surrender.