Caught on the wrong foot over its claims denying the death of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) head Ashutosh Maharaj, the dera management on Thursday barred the entry of the media to the premises.
All media OB (outdoor broadcasting) vans have been told to leave the dera and allowed by the police to be stationed on the busy Nakodar-Nurmahal road.
A few print mediapersons who managed to get into the dera were not allowed to enter the core premises, where the office of the sect is situated.
DJJS spokesman Swami Vishalananda, in a statement, said the way media had reported the issue had hurt the sentiments of followers of the dera head.
"We request the media to publish the news keeping in mind the faith of crores of sect disciples," said Vishalananda.
The sect spokesman also targeted Puran Singh, Ashutosh's former driver, who had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Punjab and Haryana high court, alleging the sect head's illegal confinement by four of its members.
"Puran was never a driver of Swamiji. Earlier, too, he had levelled baseless allegations against the sect and had even tendered a written apology with the district administration," he claimed.
The sansthan's personal security wing cordoned off the entire dera premises on Thursday. A few employees of the electronic media were reportedly threatened by dera men over airing anything against the dera.
Why delay in declaring death?
Even as various religious sects have taken exception to terming Ashutosh's death as 'samadhi' (deep state of meditation) by the DJJS management, questions have been raised about why the DJJS did it. A police official who was part of the five-member team that inspected Ashutosh's body before submitting a reply in the Punjab and Haryana high court, told HT that on January 28, when the news of the death spread, a few senior dera men discussed how to go about Ashutosh's funeral. "Don't know why they termed the death as 'samadhi'." the police official disclosed.
Many followers of the sect are suspecting that their guru might have died an unnatural death, especially after the dera head's ex-driver moved court alleging his illegal confinement. However, the police official who saw the body denied foul play.