Indian guru in deadly standoff due in court

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An Indian guru at the center of a deadly standoff with police was set to appear in court Friday after he was arrested at his sprawling ashram for refusing to answer murder charges.

Nearly 15,000 supporters of the 63-year-old Sant Rampal were evacuated from his compound in Haryana state before police took him away in an ambulance Wednesday. Previous attempts by riot police to enter the fortified estate, about 175 kilometers (110 miles) from New Delhi, had resulted in deaths and injuries as Rampal's followers, some of whom were armed, fought back.

The self-styled guru was taken to Chandigarh, the state capital, to appear before a court Friday.

He has repeatedly ignored orders to answer a 2006 murder charge against him. Police have filed additional charges against him and some of his supporters, including sedition, murder, criminal conspiracy and detaining people illegally in his fortress, said Jawahar Yadav, a Haryana state government spokesman.

More than 400 people have been arrested and about 200 others injured, including security forces, during the dayslong standoff.

The guru's followers on Wednesday handed over to police the bodies of four women who apparently died inside the 12-acre (5-hectare) complex. Another woman and an 18-month-old child died in a hospital after leaving the ashram.

The circumstances of the deaths were not clear and autopsies were being conducted.

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