NEW DELHI - A self-styled Indian religious leader was charged on Thursday with sedition and waging war against the state after a days-long siege of his sprawling compound ended in his arrest along with 450 hardcore followers.
Police evacuated more than 10,000 followers on Wednesday from the fortified compound of a bizarre cult headed by 'godman' Satguru Rampalji Maharaj before capturing him late in the evening.
Rampal, as the 63-year-old former engineer is known to his followers, was shown in TV news footage gripping the bars of a holding cell. He had been wanted for ignoring more than 40 court summonses in connection with a murder case.
"I am innocent," Rampal told reporters as he was brought out, handcuffed, from a court in the northwestern city of Chandigarh. "All allegations against me are false."
Police used tear gas, water cannon and bulldozers to storm Rampal's 12-acre (5-hectare) base on Wednesday, breaching resistance from a human chain of supporters outside, and men throwing stones and bottles filled with acid from its roof.