After Rampal, standoff brewing in Ashutosh Maharaj's ashram

After the Punjab and Haryana High Court's December 01 direction to the Punjab government to perform last rites of sect guru Ashutosh Maharaj within 15 days, the followers of the godman have fortified dera, Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS).

Last Updated: Dec 03, 2014, 10:33 AM IST
After Rampal, standoff brewing in Ashutosh Maharaj's ashram

Nurmahal: After the Punjab and Haryana High Court's December 01 direction to the Punjab government to perform last rites of sect guru Ashutosh Maharaj within 15 days, the followers of the godman have fortified dera, Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS).

Ashutosh, who headed the DJJS sect with its headquarters at Nurmahal near Jalandhar, was declared "clinically dead" by doctors on January 29 this year.

However, the sect management kept his body in a deep freezer claiming that the sect leader had gone into "samadhi" (deep meditation). No one was allowed to take out the body for examination nor any last rites were performed.

Aping the followers of controversial godman Rampal, who fought off the police trying to arrest him, Ashutosh Maharaj's supporters have constituted a "task force" to protect the dera.

According to reports, members of DJJS “task force” are keeping a vigil on the visitors. Journalists are not allowed to enter the dera premises.

On Tuesday, the `security wing` did not let three police officers enter into the premises.

Every vehicle passing through the public thoroughfare is being checked. Road towards the main gate has been barricaded.

The situation here is reminiscent of the way controversial sect leader Rampal's supporters resisted police from arresting him. Six people - five women and an infant - lost their lives in the stand-off between Rampal followers and security forces in November.

Taking lessons from the clashes at Barwala in neighbouring Haryana's Hisar district, the Punjab government does not want to take any chances. Punjab Police chief Sumedh Singh Saini on Tuesday met the followers of Nurmahal-based Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan to ensure law and order in the state. 

The matter of the cremation of Ashutosh alias Mahesh Kumar Jha was taken to the high court by Dalip Kumar Jha, who claimed to be the son of the sect guru, in April this year, saying that he be given the mortal remains of his father.

Another petitioner, Puran Singh, who claimed to be the sect leader's former driver, had also approached the high court, seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the death of Ashutosh.

In its order, the court directed that a committee be constituted under the district magistrate to work out the performing of last rites of the sect leader.

The Punjab director general of police (DGP) and chief secretary were asked by the high court to monitor the situation.

The sect has properties and assets running into hundreds of crores and there are reports that the mystery of Ashutosh's death is related to the control of these properties.

(With Agency inputs)