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Mainstream, VOL LII, No 7, February 8, 2014

Bapu Asaram Episode — Need for Wider and Transparent Investigation

Monday 10 February 2014, by Bharat Dogra

The Bapu Asaram episode has distressed and disturbed a very large number of people, and it is extremely important for truth and justice to prevail in this case. No one, no matter how resourceful and politically well connected, should be allowed to destroy evidence or otherwise hamper the process of justice.

While first and foremost it should be ensured that justice is neither denied nor delayed in the latest case of sexual exploitation, it should be remembered that this is only one among numerous other serious allegations made from time to time against numerous ashrams and institutions associated with Bapu Asaram. These disturbing allegations include the possibility of violence against children as dead bodies of children were discovered under mysterious circumstances, previous instances of sexual abuse, several cases of illegal land-grab and accumulation of property under religious cover etc. Therefore, the Union Government should initiate a wider investigation in which all these serious allegations can be probed together as these various episodes can be best examined only in a comprehensive investigation.

This should be a completely transparent and unbiased investigation which gives adequate hearing to the followers of Bapu Asaram as well.

Apart from various specific allegations of illegal activities, including corrupt and criminal practices, there is also the issue of superstitions and blind faith. A visitor to the Bapu’s preachings says: “Bapu Asaram said that he had came to the earth with three aims—to rid the salt of seas, to establish a full moon permanently in the sky and to free women from the monthly bother of the menstrual cycle. However, Bapu said that seeing the distress of many followers, he got involved in removing this distress.” Such statements are not challenged by his followers, they accept these with folded hands.

WE have to find democratic methods of checking such superstitions and blind faith. Therefore, it is very important that the wider investigation into the various institutions associated with Bapu Asaram is a democratic, transparent probe so that blind followers have a chance to gradually discover the truth in the course of this investigation. This will help them emerge out of this web of delusions, superstitions and blind faith. Many families have been disrupted badly by such blind faith and it’ll be in their own interest to emerge from this self-imprisonment.

Eminent persons should be associated with such an investigation, and it should be conducted with a spirit of finding the truth without any bias.

The author is a free-lance journalist who has been involved with several social initiatives and movements.

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