Amid the filing of petitions by Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) and Bihar native Dalip Jha -- challenging the high court single-bench order to the Punjab government to perform last rites of sect head Ashutosh before December 17 -- there has been a sharp decrease in visitors to the dera in the past few days. An eerie silence prevails on the dera premises, even though the congregation scheduled for December 14 is just a few days away.
As per the entry register being maintained by the police, only about 50-70 followers are visiting the DJJS headquarters here daily as compared to the earlier average of 400-500.
Dera spokesman Swami Vishalananda, however, denied any decrease in the footfall, claiming that all dera activities were going on as normally as ever.
However, the development is being seen as a setback for the DJJS, which is planning a ‘show of strength’ of around 70,000 followers on Sunday.
“You visited the dera in the evening, when our devotees are busy with routine work and preparing themselves for Sandhya (evening pooja),” said Vishalananda, while talking to journalists.
However, sources in the administration attributed the decline in visitors’ number to the increased vigil by the police on the dera premises.
“Considering the Rampal episode, people are shying away from visiting the dera. Eight days have passed after the high court order, but the DJJS has failed to get any relief,” said a senior district official.
Meanwhile, the police have taken charge of the entry points, where the dera security wing generally used to frisk visitors.
“Initially, the DJJS men objected to this, but the orders are clear from the high-ups that nobody should be allowed to resist the police,” a cop deployed at an entry gate said.