Mystery over the health of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) head Ashutosh Maharaj deepened on Thursday, even as hush-hush preparations were afoot in the Nurmahal dera, apparently for some "mega event".
In a U-turn from its Wednesday's statement that Ashutosh was in 'samadhi' in a sitting posture, the DJJS management said on Thursday that the godman was lying on his bed.
"He is in the 'sleep mode' on a bed. Sitting is not the only position for 'samadhi'. On Wednesday, we were not informed properly about the Maharaj's posture," said DJJS chief spokesman Swami Vishalanand, when a few mediapersons tried to contact the management.
The DJJS management also denied naming doctors who had examined Ashutosh or having any interaction with them. After a rebuttal by doctors from Apollo Hospital, Ludhiana, that they not examined Ashutosh on Tuesday night, as claimed by the management, the sect spokesman claimed that DJJS doctor Dr Ashok was monitoring the godman's health.
When a reporter asked for having a word with Dr Ashok, the spokesman claimed that he had rushed to Delhi to discuss Ashutosh's case with doctors there.
On Thursday, too, the dera did not allow police and administrative officials to enter Ashutosh's enclosure.
Jalandhar deputy commissioner Varun Roojam reportedly met the dera management and asked them to clear the air, but he was also not allowed to go inside the enclosure.
However, the DJJS claimed that no administrative or police official had contacted them.
"We have never even asked for any security on our premises. They themselves have come, we don't know why. Probably, maintaining law and order is their priority after the false report of Swamiji's death," the spokesman said. The DC did not comment on the matter.
Jalandhar (rural) senior superintendent of police (SSP) Jaspreet Singh Sidhu, who has been camping in the dera since Wednesday morning, claimed that the police had been deployed as a precautionary measure to ensure security.
"They are not allowing us to enter the enclosure. We are ready for any situation, even if the dera head comes out of 'samadhi' and addresses his followers," the SSP said.
Meanwhile, two earth movers are operating in the dera for levelling the ground to set up a big pandal. Tents and lights are also being installed. Sources told HT that the DJJS management was also planning to set up a helipad on the dera premises.
"We cannot tell exactly what dera followers are up to, but they are searching for a spot where a helipad can be set up," naib tehsildar Kulwant Singh said.
Succession row delaying news of 'death'?
A Hindustan Times investigation has revealed that the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) management is probably delaying breaking the news of Ashutosh Maharaj's 'death' so as to resolve the succession row.
The DJJS management has hired two portable mortuary chambers from Nurmahal-based Baba Bhooth Nath Mandir Committee. When the HT reporter called up committee caretaker Davinder Kumar on the pretext of hiring a mortuary machine, the latter said, "We have only two machines and both were hired by the Nurmahal dera on Wednesday."
Sources in the dera disclosed that three factions were involved in the tussle over succession. One faction is led by Amarjit Singh, an old disciple of Ashutosh, known in the dera as Arvindanand. He is a resident of Bilga village in Nurmahal area.
Some local followers want Arvindanand to head the dera after Ashutosh, but the governing body of the DJJS, led by its president Adityanand, is backing another Ashutosh disciple, Narendranand.
Narendranand, whose original name is Narinder, a resident of Malout in Muktsar district, is presently part of the DJJS's team in Delhi.
A section of the followers is supporting another Ashutosh disciple, Suvidhanand, who has been living on the dera premises for the past many years. Suvidhanand, whose original name is Soni, hails from Shankar village in Jalandhar district.
However, the DJJS management has denied any succession row. "The DJJS is governed by a governing body and Maharaj ji is our only guru. Only Maharaj ji will announce his successor after coming out of his 'samadhi'," said Jaya Bharti, head of the media wing of the sansthan.