Mathura / Vrindavan: After the attack on the Nepali Bhajan Ashram by claimants to the land, volunteers have come forth in great numbers to help rebuild. Many sants from different institutions as well as local residents have been helping to get the ashram rebuilt. Work is going on both day and night.
With cooler weather coming, the ashram residents are quite inconvenienced in having to sleep under the stars. The kitchen has been given priority because of the difficulties in cooking with the monkeys always ready to make off with unguarded foodstuffs. But the work of the volunteers has already resulted in the rebuilding of the boundary wall.
83-year-old Laxmi Devi, a Nepali widow living in the ashram, broke down in tears when asked about the events of Nov.5. “We left our homes to come to Vrindavan to do bhajan. Are we going to end up living on the streets here, homeless? We have done no harm to anyone. We watched our own people get beaten mercilessly right in front of our eyes.”
Said Balkrishna Devacharya, Bhajan Kutir mahant, “Until the culprits are arrested… none of us will feel in security but although we received assurance, we have as yet not received any financial help from the administration. However, several members of the Vrindavan community have stepped forward to donate.” In particular Godhulipuram resident Ashok Agrawal gave ₹51000 and Bal Yogeshanand and Pratap Chaudhuri gave ₹31,000 and ₹21,000 respectively.
New Vrindavan CO RK Gautam and SP Uday Pratap Singh talked to some of the students who had been injured. Police have arrested several of the accused named by the ashram people. The chief suspect, Bihari Lal, and his father-in-law were taken to the Thana where they are being held for questioning.
SP Singh said that other suspects are being hunted, and parties have been sent to Rajpur, Panigaon and Sunrakh to find them. A police lineup will be held to identify the members of the gang who broke into the ashram.
A team from the Legal Services Authority came on the scene to help with the investigation, to insure police action and to furnish their own report of the events.
Earlier, Police officials said that while Vrindavan Kotwali in-charge Udai Raju Singh has been sent to police lines, chowki in-charge Sudhir Kumar and Shyamvir Singh have been suspended. SP (city) Shailesh Pandey has been asked to investigate and submit a report urgently, officials added. Four policemen will keep a vigil round the clock at the demolished structure which the organization used for bhajans. A special team has been constituted to nab the accused. An official said several villages and known hideouts of the accused had been raided with no results so far.
Meanwhile, local politicians have started visiting the temple-ashram premises to console the victims. MLA Pradeep Mathur of the Congress demanded firm and independent inquiry and action. Samajwadi Party leader Thakur Kishor Singh said there was need for concrete action against the culprits. Bahujan Samaj Party district coordinator Yogesh Dwivedi wanted immediate action and arrest of the accused, and help to the affected inmates of the ashram.
District representatives of the Socialist Party, Narayan Yadav and Mukesh Singh from Govardhan, and of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Saurabh Gaur, also came on the scene to discuss with the victims and to offer all possible help.
As word spread in the Vrindavan religious community of the atrocity, many of its leaders came to the scene and spoke with the police officers. Among those present were Ramdevanand Saraswati Swami, Mahant Haribol Baba, Mahant Fuldol Bihari Das and Brahmin Seva Sangha president Chandralal Sharma, Udayan Sharma, Baba Rasika Pagal and many others.
The Nepali Mitr Parishad has criticised the police inaction and demanded arrest of the culprits. Secretary Pushpraj said Indo-Nepalese relations could be harmed.
The ashram has been in existence for more than 150 years. It is one of the oldest Nimbarki Ashrams in Vrindavan established by Bhagavat Sharan Ji Maharaj and which has long been a shelter for bhajananandis and brahmacharis.
The land of the Ashram was disputed and said to have been claimed by the pujari of the neighboring Chamunda Temple. Angry people from the neighborhood blocked the Parikrama Marg on Friday morning. They only let traffic through when the City Magistrate Vijay Singh and SP City Shailesh Pandey assured them that stern action would be taken against the culprits and that the Bhajan Kutir will be rebuilt. The Secretary of the Rajpur Bhajan Ashram Seva Sansthan, Balkrishna Devacharya has filed a complaint with the police. Charges have been filed under sections 395, 307, 447, 448, 427, 364, 295 against Biharilal and Murarilal and a number of others in the attacking group.
Court cases have been going on over the ashram properties for some time. Sevaits Bihari Lal and Murarilal who have been claiming ownership of the land are said to be behind the aggressive action.
On Friday morning, as soon as the news spread, hundreds of sants and representatives of Hindu organizations, political parties, representatives of Vrindavan’s Nepalese community and the people of Rajpur village arrived at the scene and began their spontaneous protest.
(Photo: Jahid Sayyad)