Govt raises secular bogey to wash its hands of Ashutosh last rites

  • Surender Sharma, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Dec 16, 2014 08:39 IST

The beleaguered Punjab government has tried its best to wash its hands of the ongoing controversy regarding the last rites of Ashutosh, sect head of Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (DJJS).

From fundamental duties of the state to tenets of secularism, it has quoted all in its 500-page appeal before the division bench of the Punjab and Haryana high court.

The government argues that there is no violation of any of the fundamental duties by the state or any other agency, thus the December 1 judgment be reversed.

The government appeal says “propagating a particular faith or religion is contrary to the basic tenets and thus beyond the realm of state authorities”.

The Punjab government has argued that the court failed to tell it as to which particular religious denomination the person who performs the last rites belongs to and whether Ashutosh should be cremated or buried.

The government argues that directing the state through a committee to dispose of Ashutosh’s mortal remains is going beyond the scope of the petitoners’ prayers.

It also argues as to how those relatives who were to be allowed during the last rites were to be identified as the court had not laid down any guidelines.

“Instead of directing the state authorities to perform the task of cremation, the same should have been assigned to followers of the DJJS, which Ashutosh was heading….The court was not dealing with an unclaimed body and lakhs of followers were laying claims to the body,” the government has stated in its petition.

To take a decision by the committee on a sensitive issue like this may lead to an unpleasant situation, more so as DJJS is an organisation having lakhs of followers, the government has stated.

The main contention of the government remains that there was no prayer for directing the state government to perform the last rites. It says no disrespect in any manner is being shown to the body.

The body is not being exhibited at all and is being revered and respected.

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