Indian media: Controversial guru 'disregarded' law

Violence in Haryana state killed at least six people Image copyright AFP
Image caption Violence in Haryana state killed at least six people

Papers in India criticise controversial Hindu guru Rampal for "allowing" his supporters to use violence against police officials.

The self-styled guru is wanted in connection with a 2006 murder case and for contempt of court.

Police arrested him on Wednesday night after a bloody standoff with his supporters during which six people died.

His supporters threw stones and opened fire when police tried to raid his ashram in the northern state of Haryana.

Papers feel that "godmen" like Rampal run their "empires" like businesses in the country.

"There are several things that rule India's mindscape: Politics, scams, cricket and Bollywood. And then there is a full range of self-styled-godmen who have made insecurities and aspirations of people/followers the working capital of their thriving business across the country," says the Hindustan Times.

The Hindu also says the guru "not only showed utter disregard for the law of the land, but also supreme confidence in his ability to keep law enforcers at bay".

'Vote banks'

Papers are also asking questions over alleged links between self-styled gurus and politicians.

The Times of India says the incident shows "how complicit the entire political class has been in allowing cult leaders like Rampal to take the law for a ride".

"He has evaded court appearances an astounding 43 times over the past four years for a murder case in 2006... The law is equal for all and it's about time policemen and politicians enforce it equally," it adds.

The Hindustan Times also says that such gurus "flourish because they command vote-banks" for politicians eager to win elections.

It adds that the "authorities should launch a clean-up campaign of these groups and find out their source of political support and funding patterns".

"Shying away from biting the bullet would mean further trouble in future," it says.

Newspapers are also scathing in their criticism of the new Haryana state government led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

"How could a cult be allowed to so flagrantly mock the rule of law and taunt the state? Long after the showdown is over, these questions will haunt the newly elected Khattar government," says The Indian Express.

"When the self-styled godman positions himself above the law, the state can ill afford to dither or appear to do so," it adds.

Ebola concerns

Moving on to other stories, papers are urging the government to strengthen its preparedness against Ebola.

India has quarantined a man who was cured of Ebola in Liberia because of the possibility that he may spread the virus through sex.

The Times of India says "the progress in infrastructure development at the hospitals identified for treatment of Ebola patients is far from satisfactory".

The government, however, says the situation is under "complete control" and "there is no need to panic".

Health Minister JP Nadda said the detection of the virus in the man, who arrived here on 10 November from Liberia, was a result of "extra caution" shown by the government.

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