An Ashram (spiritual center) run by a self-styled Godman in New Delhi has come under the lens of the law after it was revealed that hundreds of women were confined in inhumane conditions. Police suspect 300 other centers run by the Godman could be hubs for human trafficking.
The perils of Indian society are deeply entrenched in religious traditions that manifest themselves in various forms, including the traps set by Godmen of all faiths. Recently hundreds of girls were rescuted from the ‘spiritual learning center’ of a Godman in Delhi. The Women Commission of Delhi, backed by the police, suspects taht hundreds of girls are still trapped in Ashrams run by Godman Virendra Dev Dixit, who is on the run after a missing woman’s family approached the court for help.
The heavily guarded Ashrams run by this self-styled Godman came into focus after the Delhi High Court ordered the Delhi police and the state’s women commission to raid the Ashram and rescue the missing woman, who hailed from the nearby state of Rajasthan.
After raiding the Ashram in the Rohini region of New Delhi, police learned of several other Ashrams in other areas. This led to the liberation of 45 women within the past week. More recently, police raided a house in Indore, a city in Madhya Pradesh, on Tuesday and rescued three more girls.
Dixit, who ran the Adhyatmik Ishwarya Vishwa Vidhyalaya (Spiritual Godly University) is said to be a former aide of the world-famous Brahm Kumari spiritual group. However, after the controversy erupted, the Brahma Kumari group distanced itself from Dixit and his activities.
“The girls were found in a state of trauma and most of them were not in a condition to tell us about their whereabouts or the time since they arrived. We doubt that they were all sedated or under the influence of drugs and it may take some time before they become normal to help us in further investigations,” Swati Maliwal, chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women, told Sputnik.
“We doubt that Dixit was running a human trafficking racket. We have demanded that the establishments run by this person across the country must be raided and sealed and their inmates need to be rescued,” Maliwal added.
Notably, the Delhi High Court has ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation, the country’s most powerful investigating agency and has come down heavily on the Delhi Police for not taking any action on various complaints filed by families of girls and women lured into the so-called ‘spiritual centers’ run by Dixit. Police suspect that the Godman has around 300 such centers across the country and is presently evading arrest.
The risks involved in tackling such cases are huge, as such Godmen have a large base of staunch followers. In the last week of August this year, Gurmeet Ram Rahim, a self-styled multi-billionaire Godman, was convicted in a rape case and jailed for 20 years. The verdict pronounced by a local court led to large-scale violence by his followers and resulted in the loss of 38 lives; hundreds were injured. The Army had to be called in to control the situation.
The proliferation of Babas or Godmen and their centers, called Deras in India, have often been associated with the patronage of the political class.
“These Godmen garner the blind support of their gullible followers, which number in the hundreds or thousands. Politicians find them easy targets to catch votes and in return to a large extent the administration has the understanding that they mustn’t their activities,” T K Thomas, renowned Gandhian and social commentator, told Sputnik.
The list of Godmen under suspicion in India is long. From Sarathi baba in South India, under the investigation of the Enforcement Directorate, to Asaram Bapu, who is in jail for rape charges; the episodes of Sura Baba, from whose hideouts police unearthed stacks of unaccounted currency; to Haryana Godman Rampal who faces murder charges; the list seems endless.
Source: Sputnik News