After failinhg to get any legal remedy six days after the Punjab and Haryana high court directed the Punjab government to perform the funeral rites of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) head Ashutosh Maharaj before December 15, the Nurmahal-based dera is continuing with the arrangement to hold a large congregation of followers on December 14.
The dera management has also rejected the pleas of the local administration and police not to hold the gathering of over 70,000 followers as announced by it.
The dera had claimed that it would hold a bhandara on every second Sunday of the month since it has been a routine for last 20 years that was started by DJJS head Ashutosh Maharaj.
DSP Nakodar Satish Malhotra, who has shifted his office to the dera complex after court on December 1, said the dera management claims that holding bhandara is not aimed at any kind of show of strength.
“But formal talks will be held by the committee constituted by the court in its decision. The role of police is limited to following the committee’s direction,” the DSP said.
The court orders say that five-member committee headed by district magistrate (deputy commissioner), SSP Jalandhar (rural), civil surgeon, SDM Phillaur and municipal corporation commissioner would perform the funeral rites of Ashutosh.
Govt closely watching dera’s next move
One member of the committee said they have not held even a single meeting so far even six days after the court passed the orders.
An official said the entire administration was busy in preparing for the inauguration ceremony of the World Cup Kabaddi and of the committee may hold a meeting on Monday.
Sources in the district administration said the Punjab government has also not yet given its clear indication as how to proceed in the case. The government is expecting delay in the matter with the DJJS filing review a petition in the court.
Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, who was in Jalandhar on Saturday to attend Kabaddi World Cup inauguration function, when questioned said the issue relates to religious sentiments of DJJS followers and is highly sensitive.
“I have yet not completely gone through the orders. But at the same time, the government also respects the court verdict. We are monitoring the issue very closely,” he said.
Meanwhile, DJJS spokesman Swami Vishalananda on Twitter condemned media reports suggesting that it could be another Rampal-like situation.
“We respect law of the land but at the same time we have the legal right to challenge the decision. The media is flaring up the issue unnecessarily without having any strong base. The presence of devotees in the dera is only a routine thing,” the spokesman said.