Fewer than the promised 70,000 people may have attended its “show of strength” on Sunday, but Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) still has strong faith that its head Ashutosh is in “samadhi” (deep meditation) and will come back.
Standing against the Punjab and Haryana high court single-bench decision that requires the Punjab government to ensure that Ashutosh is cremated before December 17, the dera told its followers not to believe in the media and medical reports that their leader was dead.
These followers were called to the sect’s Nurmahal dera here in the name of a religious congregation.“We have full faith that we’ll be able to see him (Ashutosh) and listen to his discourses again. Ordinary people may not believe it but, as his followers, you know that he will come back,” DJJS Trust head Narendrananda told the congregation.
A video on the screen featured followers from various states and countries saying they had faith.
The dera also released a devotional song “Ashu Baba Aayega” (Ashutosh will come back), which attacks the media and medical reports that declare him dead. It asked the followers to motivate people to make a missed call on a toll-free number to endorse the dera stand. The dera also clarified to the followers that there was no dispute over Ashutosh’s property, since he was “in samadhi and not gone”. Reacting to the recent statements from Akal Takht jathedar that the dera was anti-Sikh, the DJJS stated: “They even said that our Tarn Taran dera had been sealed because we were anti-Sikh. These are mere lies, as our dera is as popular among Sikhs as it is among other communities. You need not worry,” Narendernanda told the followers.
Union minister Sampla visits dera
Hoshiarpur parliamentarian and Union minister of state for social justice Vijay Sampla on Sunday visited the dera headquarters before the start of “bhandara” (religious congregation). This is his second visit to the dera in two weeks after Bharatiya Janata Party state president Kamal Sharma stated that back channels with the Nurmahal sect were open. “I am an old devotee of the dera and I came over only to pay obeisance to it,” he told HT.
Only 25,000 gather
Rain and cold weather defeated the dera plan to gather more than 70,000 followers for the congregation. The crime investigation department (CID) and Jalandhar district administration reported a crowd not bigger than 25,000 people. The dera insisted that the numbers were more than 70,000 and it was a routine programme held every second Sunday for followers from the Doaba region; yet people from other regions and states were also spotted. As promised, the campus was cleared after lunch.
The police made a video recording of the function, where the followers raised the slogan “Ashutosh maharaj ki jai”. However, what surprised the journalists was the slogan of “Jai Shri Ram”, as the sect is known to worship only Ashutosh as living god. Held at the main gate, the media could catch the speeches over loudspeakers only.