CCTV footage of the May 27 clash between security personnel of Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Food and Herbal Park and a local union of truck operators, which left a truck driver dead, shows Ram Bharat, younger brother of the yoga guru, instigating the security guards to attack the protesting union members, Uttarakhand Police said Friday.
It was on the basis of this footage that Ram Bharat was arrested and booked under IPC sections relating to murder, attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy and sections of the Arms Act.
Haridwar SSP Sweety Aggarwal told The Indian Express: “Baba Ramdev was in the vicinity at the time of the incident. While we have recovered part of the footage that shows Ram Bharat instigating his guards to attack union members, a major portion of the footage has been erased. We are yet to ascertain if Ramdev had a role.”
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On May 27, when the clash took place at Padartha where the food park is located, police recovered five revolvers. A search on Friday led to the recovery of 12 helmets, a cane shield, used 12 bore cartridges, gunpowder, lathis and a sword. Police said none of the weapons recovered were licensed and belonged to the “40 odd bouncers” Ram Bharat had hired as guards.
According to police, the footage shows a man in orange robes amidst his personal guards outside the food park. In another clipping, commandos guarding Ramdev are seen patrolling a street — he has 40 personnel in his security detail.
Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust general secretary Balkrishna alleged “a conspiracy to defame us”.
“We regularly informed police how the union members would mount pressure to hand over the contract for transportation of our products. When we did give the contract in October 2014, they misused it and began extorting money. When this became a nuisance, we asked them to leave. This is when they hatched a plan with local Congress politicians to defame us,” Balkrishna alleged.
“Yes, Ram Bharat was present there at the time of the incident. Just because he was present, it cannot be a reason to arrest him. It was self-defence.
He runs the entire management. He will obviously come out to take stock of situation. This doesn’t mean you arrest him. Our men too sustained injuries.”
Asked about the recovery of weapons from the premises, Balkrishna said: “We have no weapons. There are private security guards who are armed but are hired from legitimate security agencies. There are several such agencies operating on the 100 acres of the food park. We have not employed bouncers. I must also alert you that police are trying to plant weapons on our premises and make it seem as if these have been recovered during a search operation.”
He said Ramdev visited the area only after the clash.
The main complaint of the truck operators union is that its members — most are residents of Aithal, Padartha, Dhanpura and Dhurapur, all within a 15-km radius of the food park — are no longer being engaged by the food park.
Truck operators from outside Haridwar, ready to transport goods at a lower rate, have been hired.
On May 27 morning, union members gathered outside the food park. They were on their way to a meeting with the police to settle the dispute with the food park management which terminated their services in March.
An FIR, filed by union president Dharmendra Chauhan, states that Ram Bharat and his men “came out armed with lathis and guns with at least 40 guards and park manager Yogesh Kumar by his side”.
“Without any warning, they surrounded us. We were only 20-25 men. Bharat gave instructions saying we had obstructed his work. He ordered his guards to open fire at us. Suddenly, they began attacking us with rods and lathis and 11 of our men sustained injuries, including Abdul Hamid who sustained a bullet injury. Daljit Singh, who too was present, received a lathi blow on his head. He fell down and bled profusely.”
Witnesses said Daljit Singh lay unattended for at least 40 minutes. His body was removed by police. It is learnt that footage of the incident shows food park security personnel hurling stones at union members from behind the gates to the premises. It also shows bouncers brandishing lathis, dancing.
SSP Aggarwal said: “In April this year, an FIR was registered against the union members for entering into a scuffle with security personnel of the food park. So this isn’t a one-sided dispute. But what happened on Wednesday was tragic and unexpected. We have arrested Ram Bharat. He has been sent to 14 days in judicial custody. Three others from the management have been detained. We are verifying the records of Bharat and the bouncers hired by the management since weapons were recovered from their room during a search operation this morning. We are also trying to ascertain who opened fire, whether union members too were in possession of weapons.”