Nurmahal (Jalandhar): Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthaan's call for a bhandara or religious congregation on December 14 is being look at with suspicion by many. The massive congregation will take place two days before the Punjab & Haryana high court's deadline to cremate its founder Ashutosh Maharaj's body.
Although government officials refused to comment on the issue, the presence of nearly 60,000 people in the dera could create an explosive situation. Sources said officials would find it practically impossible to enter the dera and execute the court orders of cremating Ashutosh's body within 15 days.
The dera founder's body has been kept in deep freeze since January. While the followers insist that Ashutosh is in 'Samadhi', experts have declared him clinically dead. The court ordered that the body should be cremated by a committee of senior officers of the district.
The presence of such a large number of devotees at a time when court orders have to be executed has eerie similarities with the Satlok Ashram confrontation in which six people were killed. As the high court had directed Rampal to appear before it on November 5, the defiant preacher called a congregation at Barwala on November 1. The followers were held back inside the ashram and used as human shields against police action.
DJJS, however, claimed that the congregation is a routine affair. "The bhandara is held every second Sunday," said DJJS affiliate Yuva Parivar Sewa Samiti chairman Harjinder Singh. "We are expecting 60,000 to 70,000 people this time." Volunteers of the dera have started levelling land to hold the bhandara under a big pandal. They have started erecting bamboo barricades and temporary toilets near the venue.
Harjinder Singh added that around 400 to 500 people were in the dera at any given point. He also revealed that 36 dedicated followers were guarding Ashutosh in 'samadhi' round the clock.
The police have established a makeshift office outside the dera. Asked about the mammoth gathering, DSP Satish Malhotra said they had just learnt about the programme and the administration would speak to the dera on the issue.