Whether Ashutosh Maharaj is dead or in samadhi (deep meditation) remains a mystery. In the four hours it remained at the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) dera here on Tuesday, a government team failed to see the body of the sect’s leader to confirm his health status that state needs to file a report in the Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday.
In at 2.20pm, the team led by deputy inspector general (Jalandhar zone) Gurinder Singh Dhillon emerged from a closed-door with the dera management after four hours without any evidence in hand. After a petition by a dera follower that Ashutosh Maharaj was in “illegal confinement” and the court order for update, the team was expected to press the management to show it the body. “We never told the dera management that we were interested in seeing the body,” the DIG confirmed.
The meeting was a confidence-building measure between dera and the administration to keep the law and order under control, the DIG has said. Asked if his brief was to carry out the high court orders to help the state government file a reply on Wednesday, Dhillon refused to comment on the pretext that the matter was sub judice and religious.
Jalandhar (rural) senior superintendent of police (SSP) Jaspreet Singh Sidhu and Phillaur subdivsional magistrate (SDM) Jasbir Singh were also on the team. Dera insiders said the management, which claimed to have put Ashutosh’s body in the “freezer” during his “samadhi”, had kept the team away from the body.
Accepting the petition of Puran Singh, a former driver of Ashutosh Maharaj, the high court on Monday had asked the state government get the status report on the sect leader’s health by Wednesday. Dera spokesman Swami Vishalananda denied any knowledge of the meeting, saying he had not been part of it.
Swami Vishvdevanand, a member of the sect’s media team, said there had been no checkup of the body on Tuesday. The dera has still not returned the second mortuary chamber hired on January 29 from the local Bhootnath Temple after rumours of Ashutosh’s death had spread on January 28 midnight. On Monday, it had returned one chamber after a media uproar that if Ashutosh was in Samadhi, why need the mortuary chambers.