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Ashram row: parents take kids home

Senior police officers suspect that the two boys who died mysteriously in Asaram Bapu’s Gurukul Ashram in Chhindwara recently were murdered, reports PK Maitra.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2008 23:52 IST
Pradip Kumar Maitra

Senior police officers suspect that the two boys who died mysteriously in spiritual guru Asaram Bapu’s Gurukul Ashram here recently were murdered. The ashram authorities had claimed that they had died after falling in the toilet, sparking widespread protests in the town and prompting anxious parents to take away 170 of the gurukul’s 317 students till Saturday evening.

The police suspect the involvement of a senior student, whom they interrogated on Saturday. The police also interrogated the ashram’s head OP Prajapati and other officials.

Inspector General of Police, Jabalpur range, M. Krishna told the Hindustan Times, “It was a clear-cut case of murder. We have got vital clues and I am hopeful of getting the culprit within the next two days.”

“It was an act of an insider and that’s why the district police directed the inmates of the ashram, including its head, Prajapati, not to leave the place without information,” Krishna said. He said the police had questioned over 200 people so far.

Doctors, who conducted the post-mortem on the five-year-old boy, described the death as “unnatural”. The team of doctors, led by Dr SP Jain, said only the viscera report would reveal the exact cause of death.

The state machinery, particularly the district police, had faced severe criticism for not taking any action against the ashram management for the deaths of Ram Krishna Yadav (4) and Vedant Manmode (5) within a span 48 hours. The boys were found unconscious in the toilet of the gurukul on Tuesday and Thursday evening, respectively.

However, the parents of Vedant and Ram Krishna had given the ashram a clean chit and accepted the deaths as “destiny”.

Meanwhile, tension prevailed in the township following a two-day bandh sponsored by the Gondwana Ganatantra Party and Samajwadi Party. The bandh was called to protest against the casual approach of the police and negligence by the ashram management.

Lata Prakash Rakshak, a disciple of Asaram Bapu, came here with her relatives on Saturday morning from Nagpur to take away her 11-year-old son. "I was shocked and perturbed when we got the news. It seems my son is not in safe custody," she said. Most students of the residential school hail from affluent families. The ashram charges around Rs 35,000 per student per year for tuition, boarding and lodging.

Dr Gopal Telange of Athner in Betul district was among those waiting to take his son home. "How can I keep my son here after the incident?" he asked, saying he had admitted his son Nikhil this year to standard V. "Three other families from our village also enrolled their children in the school and they too have come to take their children away," he said.

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