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Situation at the ashram of Ashutosh Maharaj, who has been declared clinically dead and Punjab and Haryana High Court has set dealine for performance of his last rites, remained normal on Friday, police said.

“The situation is normal. There has been no report of any problem anywhere. The followers at the ashram have been cooperating with police and the common people,” said DSP Satish Malhotra.

On January 29, doctors of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan had declared Ashutosh alias Mahesh Kumar Jha clinically dead, after which the management of the ashram had kept the body inside a deep freezer, stating that the spiritual head had gone into ‘samadhi’ (deep state of meditation).

On December 1, the court ordered the Sansthan to conduct the last rites of the godman by December 15. It had directed to constitute a committee under the District Magistrate to look into the matter and asked DGP and Chief Secretary to monitor the situation. The court had also observed that religious sentiments of the followers should not be hurt.

However, the ashram yesterday moved the court seeking a 30-day extension on the deadline given by it to perform the last rites, so that it could challenge the verdict.

On being asked how many people are visiting the ashram everyday, Malhotra said, “Nearly 500 people visit the ashram everyday, but they leave the same day. About the people who stay here in the night, we have asked the ashram to maintain a register with their names and addresses.”

“The ashram has also been asked to keep record as to on whose reference people are staying in the ashram,” he said.

On being asked if the police will stop a ‘bhandara’ (mass congregation) that the ashram plans to hold, Malhotra said, “nothing can be said about it now. Whatever the committe orders in this regard, will be followed. The decision to stop the ‘bhandara’ will be taken by senior officials.”

Meanwhile, chief of the youth wing of the ashram Harjinder Singh Sandhu said, “It is wrong to compare this ashram with Satlok Ashram. There is no gathering of followers here. Normally, there are nearly 250 followers and workers in the ashram always. Apart from them, there will 200 people. This is a routine thing, people come and go.”

“This ashram is spread over 200 acres and there are no walls. Everythng here is open,” he said.

On organising ‘bhandara’ despite the court order, Sandhu said, “It happens in the second week of every month. There is nothing new in it. We have full faith that Maharajji will come out of his meditation one day.”

Ashutosh Maharaj

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