(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 24 , 2008
Killings At Asaram Ashram Expose Corporate Baba Badal Saroj
CHINDWARA town of Madhya Pradesh witnessed a serious outburst of public resentment on July 31 arising out of the mysterious death of two children, one in sequence to other on July 29, in a residential institution run in the town by Asaram Bapu. Ramkrishna Yadav a student of Nursery standard was stifled to death in a hostel toilet. The dead body of Vedant Mourya, another residential student of KG I standard, was also found in the hostel toilet on July 31. Prima-facie, the cause of death of both students was drowning in a bucket of water. Angry citizens of the town resorted to blockade of Asaram Gurukul. The CPI(M), Gondwana Ganatranta Party, CITU and other organisations called for a bandh and demanded immediate arrest of the incharge of ashram, a CBI probe of the incident and immediate closing down of the ashram.
OF BJP GOVTS
Another Gurukul of Asaram Ashram at Ahmedabad also witnessed similar incidents of planned murder of students on July 5 resulting in serial protest actions including bandh at Ahmedabad and elsewhere in the state of Gujarat. Asaram disciples physically attacked the protesters. The DIG who investigated the matter came out with a statement that these were not cases of normal deaths but seemed to be planned murders.
Similar doubt was expressed by one lady to the police authority regarding the first incident at Chindwara. She went to the extent of pointing out to particular resident devotee as a suspect but nobody cared to enquire into her allegations. An investigating police officer was relieved of his responsibility midway and the task was handed over to the IG Police of Jabalpur, who hastily announced the name of a student of IX standard Rituraj as the lone culprit involved in the serial murders. Rituraj was promptly sent to jail custody for fourteen days.
The parents of Rituraj immediately objected to their son’s arrest and described it as an unholy attempt to shield the real culprits. They told CPI(M) leaders that Rituraj is a patient of epilepsy and was taking treatment at Nagpur. He is not in a mental frame to withstand the tension and anxiety. The police, the father claimed, took advantage of his crumbling mental condition and made him a scapegoat to be offered to the BJP which wants to bail out Asaram, the favorite mythological story teller and its open supporter, from this crisis.
The case of Ahmedabad deaths was also dealt with in a similar one-sided manner. The police took several hours to reach to the site, where bodies of students were actually found. The forensic team was not allowed to reach the place till the lock gate was opened by the management. The river water was allowed to drown the whole area. The chief minister Narendra Modi gave an empty assurance of bringing the guilty to book only in order to stem the anger and anguish expressed by the local people against the killings. Even after more than a month since the murders took place, the investigation could not even begin. Of course, at this rate, to nab the culprits would remain a distant dream. The BJP government of Madhya Pradesh proved itself cleverer than that of Gujarat. In order to give a clean chit to Asaram, it preferred to fix the blame on a sick student of IX standard.
This controversial baba’s original name was Asumal, which was changed to Asaram, designated as Sant Shree (a religious person of repute). And to attach nearness, he was called as Bapu (a fatherly person). One cannot be sure whether or not the earlier police file on Asumal remains safe in Modi’s regime. But his present-day activities are no less controversial. There are hourly rates of his religious discourse (prabachan). Sales proceeds of prasad, incense sticks (agarbatti) and use of erected canopy (pandal) etc are provided on exorbitant rates by Asaram himself. He has himself become a corporate by establishing an extensive network of factories, schools etc. For setting up these, he successfully acquired thousands of acres of land which was made available by the BJP governments either free of cost or at nominal rates. There is hardly any town in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat where there is no ashram of Asaram Bapu. After getting the land, he used to occupy neighboring lands as well, at his own terms. This is the reason why almost all ashrams of Asaram are embroiled in land disputes. One who refuses to be a timid disciple is considered as a person of obstruction and is dealt with accordingly. The government machinery eagerly comes forward to teach such a person a good lesson.
At Chindwara, while local people were expressing their anguish and discontentment by participating in the bandh, some communal organisations led by RSS came out openly in processions in support of Asaram. They designated the agitating people as anti-Hindu.
According to Vasudev Sharma, CITU secretary, who was involved in the agitational programs against these cruel murders, there are no ‘rules & regulations’ in the ashram to abide by. It does not adhere to humanitarian approach in solving problems. The hostel meant for 70 students is occupied by 350 students. The institution (gurukul) does not have any teacher or employee on its records. They are all disciples (sadhak) who follow CBSE course for examination and teach rites and rituals as laid down by Asaram to innocent boys and girls. The fee charged starts from Rs 35,000/- per annum. Some amount is added extra as a goodwill gesture which is not refundable. With such affordable fee, the parents, despite being downhearted with the affairs, prefer to keep their children in the gurukul. Expression of discontentment, if any, is considered as an act of an atheist, non-believer and anti-Hinduist. Parents of Ramkrishna Yadav were told by Asaram that Ramkrishna was bestowed with the age he lived up to, and has already taken re-incarnation as a great man. One can very well guess the standard of refinement and cultural purification being imparted in the gurukul.
Vasudev Sharma complained that several truck-loads of vegetables and forest produce from this premise have been sent to Gujarat to be used in factories of Asaram for pharmaceutical production. Absence of scientific quality assurance, safe manufacturing process and proven technology were brought to public knowledge by the recently conducted raids and surveillance by health officials. The students of gurukul are treated with these medicines.
Jasvinder Singh, CPI(M) state secretariat member, visited Chindwara and enquired into the matter. Having first hand information from students, their family members and local citizens, he expressed apprehension that the students are being subjected to experiments using these medicines.
Both at Chindwara and Ahmedabad, students, who breathed their last in sequel incidents, were found dead near to water taps. By this one cannot rule out possibility of adverse reaction of the medicines, which might have created get strong disquietude and forced them to run towards water?
Persons having knowledge and currently attached to the affairs of the gurukul claimed that tantra-sadhana is practiced in the institution. It would not be out of place to refer to the complaint of use of these kids to practice occult science of charms and incantations. A resident of Panipat and one-time associate of Narayan Sindhi, son of Asaram (who claimed to be a God himself) came out openly with letters and other documents to suggest practice of incantations.
Following the incidents of Chindwara, citizens of other cities and towns where such institutions of self made-Gods exist, are getting frightened. To Madhya Pradesh, Asaram is not the lone godly-person who want to subscribe towards spiritual reinvigoration of the state. Capital city Bhopal recently witnessed the glamorous presence of “intellectual-Guru” Shri Shri Ravishankar and “Yoga-merchant” Baba Ramdev at the inaugural function of the autobiography (Hindi Version) of “prime minister-in-waiting” L K Advani. Both these godmen have already taken several hundred acres of land from the state government for their respective ashrams as goodwill gestures. They are, therefore, duty bound to mark their individual presence at such ceremonies. After all, they need to pay the price for award or reward, whatsoever, has been paid to them.
What would be the long term effects of the mushroom growth of such ashrams is anybody’s guess. But tribal population of Amarkantak hills in Anuppur district of the state know better. Their traditional occupancy of lands have been grabbed by temples and institutions like sharks. They are battling in defence of their livelihoods with Adivasi Ekta Mahasabha and CPI(M) in the forefront. People have learned lessons that the flabby growth of sadhus & sanths in the area has a significant impact both in terms of social life and politically. This mushrooming is definitely aimed at weakening the struggle against loot of imperialism and capitalism at large.
These so-called sacred folks have developed a passion to become corporate in nature. Now they are no longer happy with petty offerings or gifts. They want their due share, as they know that in the present day bankrupt politics, political leaders and spiritual masters are mutually dependent. It is because of this estimation, be it BJP or Congress, no party wants to remain lagging behind in utilising these “godmen”. People who have been displaced from their own land for paving way to erect such ashrams would require to fight their cause in their own way. Spontaneity in public resentment, as seen in Chindwara, shows that the people are ready to do so.