A Hisar court will pronounce the verdict against 66-year-old self-styled godman Rampal on Thursday in connection with the two murder cases registered against him and 27 of his followers at his sprawling 12-acre Satlok Ashram at Barwala in 2014.
Chronology of events leading to Rampal's arrest:
2006: Rampal raised objections to certain parts of Satyarth Prakash, the core text of the Arya Samaj. This led to a clash with followers of Arya Samaj, in which one person named Sonu was shot dead, and 59 others were injured.
Rampal was charged with murder and attempt to murder, and jailed for 22 months. His followers claim that he was falsely implicated in the case.
2008: Rampal was released on bail and he set up his base in Barwala, Hisar. After obtaining bail, Rampal did not appear in court regularly, for trial in the murder case.
November 5: The Punjab and Haryana High Court issued non-bailable arrest warrants against him. This led to protest and his followers blocked rail and road traffic in Ambala, Panchkula, and Chandigarh.
November 9: When the police tried to detain him, 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.
November 17: A case was registered against self-styled godman Rampal, the head of Satlok Ashram, and his followers under IPC sections 186 (Obstructing public servant in discharge of his public function), 332 (Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty) and 353 (Assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty).
November 18: Satlok ashram in Hisar was protected by thousands of his followers who wielded lathis, sticks and other firearms.
The police had to fight bloody clashes with armed supporters of the controversial spiritual leader during the siege. The bodies of four women were found on the ashram premises while one woman and a child who were ill were taken to hospital where they died. The police said the deaths had not occurred in police action.
November 19: Rampal, who had holed up in the ashram at Barwala, Hisar, was arrested in the final assault by the police, with assistance from the Central paramilitary force.
August 29, 2017: A Hisar court acquitted Rampal in the two criminal cases, however, he remained in jail as he still had murder charges against him.
October 11, 2018: A Hisar court convicts Rampal of murder in both the cases of murder against him.
October 16: A Hisar court awards Rampal life sentences in both the murder cases.