Those were the days of mass migration of Sikhs to Punjab from other states of the country after the 1984 carnage. I was living in a small town of Punjab, which was also affected by the sentiments of that time. Overall, there was an atmosphere of grief and sympathy for those who had suffered during this turmoil. People were welcoming such displaced persons with open arms and doing everything to make them comfortable.
During those days, a distinct personality arrived in town from Delhi. He had a towering personality. His beard was so long that it touched his knees. He had shifted to our town because his distant relatives lived there. He said that he was an engineer with the public works department (PWD) in Delhi. He was deeply disturbed by the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in the national capital. He had resigned from his job as he did not feel safe living in Delhi and also wanted to return to his roots and do his bit now that he was financially stable. He declined help from relatives, bought a home in an upcoming locality of the town and started performing 'kirtan' at his house. His personality was such that in no time the number of his followers grew to hundreds.
He bought a five-acre farm in a nearby village. He used to go there in the morning and meditate for hours near the ramshackle tubewell in the field.
One fine day, the town was abuzz with news that a spring (chashma) had erupted where Santji, which is how his followers addressed him, was doing tapasya for the last three months. Everybody wanted to go and see the miracle that had happened.
There was a beeline of all types of vehicles going towards that place. When I went there, the area was swarming with people. Tents had been set up, langars had started and kirtan was going on at the place.
All newspapers reported that a spring had erupted in the field and it was flowing continuously. People named the place Chashma Sahib and were thronging it for darshan of Santji.
The hoopla went on for a few days till an inquisitive youth went quietly to the place at night and unearthed the secret behind Chashma Sahib. In fact, the engineer sahib had laid underground pipes from the tubewell to the place of his meditation. After everything was in place, he had asked his followers to start digging at a particular place as he had got a divine call and as the tubewell was on, the water sprung from the ground. The youth switched off the tubewell and the flow of water stopped.
The racket was busted in the morning. The followers dwindled but the scandal was the talk of the town for a few weeks. Santji went back to Delhi never to return. We later heard that he was involved in a corruption case while in service. That was why he had fled Delhi in the first place.