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Saints’ Lives in Danger As Land Mafias Eye Ashrams

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Vrindavan, 2014.10.05 (VT): It may be called the effect of Kaliyuga when even the saints of Braj are not spared kidnapped by criminals who want to take possession of their ashrams. Many such properties have already been grabbed by the so-called land mafias, organized gangs who use force and intimidation to take advantage of skyrocketing real estate prices.

The saints build ashrams to facilitate disciples and followers to have a peaceful and divine stay in the Dham. But this spiritual cause is all too often turning into a business with unsavory karmic consequences.

Most ashrams are governed by trusts and the Mahants are usually the presidents of those trusts. Mahants are not usually removed from this post, but other office bearers may be changed from time to time. Sometimes people with ulterior motives become disciples of an ashram mahant and get close to him or make friends to someone who is next in the hierarchy. They plot against the mahant, conspiring with other insiders to either dispossess him from the property using crooked means, or even going so far as to get him killed.

Too many incidents

Not so long ago, saint Govindananda Tirtha was kidnapped by his driver Heera Singh and his wife with the help of other accomplices. The kidnappers thrashed Govindananda and kept him hostage until they had extorted Rupees eight millions from him. They also tried to grab his ashram in an unsuccessful bid.

An old lady who was the caretaker of Shri Krishna Gaushala was arrested and sent to jail on charges of throwing acid. She got arrested in the fake case, in which she was proved innocent. It seems that the police and land mafias had worked hand in gloves in this case. But through the intervention of some social workers, she was released from prison.

Abduction in Govardhan

In another recent case, a saint was abducted and taken hostage over a property. Shivananda Das, disciple of Bhakti Advaita Madhav Goswami Maharaj of the Gaudiya Math situated at Dasbisa, Goverdhan on the Radha Kund road, was kidnapped by miscreants. He was going to his farm on scooter through Mukhrai Road. Four persons stopped him on the way and forcefully put him in a car. They had kept him gagged and blindfolded in a moving car for a whole night. He was taken to an unknown destination the next day and his abductors forced him to sign stamped legal papers at gun point.

After that he was dropped near Kusum Sarovar, on the condition that he not disclose anything to the police or anyone. The culprits threatened to kill him if he opened his mouth. The Mahant fell ill after this incident.

Well aware that his signature on official stamped (notarized) paper could be used to appropriate the ashram properties, Shivananda Das filed a complaint with the police against Rohan Singh S/o Gulab Singh R/o Bhavan Pura, Goverdhan, Kanhaiya Pehalwan S/o Puran Jaat R/o Ummed ki Nagaria Mogarra, Than Singh and Mahesh Pahalwan from Mogarra. There are already many cases registered with police against Rohit in Jaipur (Rajasthan), Thana Goverdhan and Thana Sadar Bazar in relation to various criminal activities.

Ashram land in Vrindavan claimed using a fake death certificate

In another case, a disciple produced a fake death certificate of his Guru to claim the ashram land. The name of Radha Govind Das, disciple of Murali Manohar Das from Kaimar Van in Sant Colony, was struck from the register as he was shown to be deceased in the death certificate emitted by Hathras Municipality.

Prabhu Das was made the new owner of the property after a will paper with his Guru’s fake signature was produced in the office of the Sub-divisional Magistrate. When Govind Das came to know about it, he informed his other disciples about this conspiracy. Pradeep Mishra, another disciple of the Mahant, has lodged a complaint under section 420 of the Indian Penal Code against Prabhu Das.

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