Sunday, January 4, 2015

Supreme Court will certainly have its due share as a party

Pondicherry Ashram Suicides and The Spiritual Surrender: Bobby Kunhu
JANUARY 2, 2015
Here a bit of contextualization is necessary. The Ashram was founded by Mirra Alfassa – known as the Mother to devotees based on the teachings of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh. From a trust founded with borrowed money, the Ashram has grown to become the largest property owner in Pondicherry. To become an inmate, one has to go through a probation period, following which a contract of complete surrender is entered into with the Ashram. The Ashram allocates the inmate work in one of its departments based on his or her skill sets and qualification and in return provides for food, shelter, medical care, clothing and so on – but strictly no monetary benefits. This contract (called prosperity list) till recently also had clauses that prevented inmates from approaching the police or media. However, a caveat needs to be added here – the contract does not prevent an inmate from leaving the Ashram – and all inmates believe in the surrender!

Without any effective internal grievance redressal mechanism – this means absolute power. Over a period of time there have been allegations from Ashram inmates ranging from sexual abuse, pedophilia, physical abuse, medical negligence etc. When some of the inmates protested, their prosperity was withdrawn – meaning that their food and shelter too was withdrawn. Some inmates left the Ashram. A few others, rather than leave the Ashram and retract from their leap of faith and surrender, decided to go to court to get their food and shelter restored. After, a long protracted legal battle one of the cases came before the Supreme Court of India. The apex court turned down the prayer in the case. That is a different story requiring different legal analysis that I would not want to go into here.

A small diversionary note is required here – though the Ashram is the centerpiece of Pondicherry’s economy – beyond employment; there is hardly any interaction between the local Pondicherry citizenry and the Ashram. In fact, the local populace views the Ashram with deep suspicion. On the other hand given the vast resources owned by the Ashram, there seem to be a background political struggle to gain access and control of these resources.

STORY OF PONDY SISTERS: The sister act via @IndianExpress
According to them, their travails began on January 9, 2001, when Jayashree was allegedly manhandled in the dining room by a visitor. She had earlier questioned financial irregularities in the accounts of the ashram canteen and alleged that “sexual favours” had been sought by senior inmates. She had lodged a complaint with the ashram management, but no action was taken for two months. The sisters then warned that they would file a police complaint if their grievances were not addressed, despite ashram rules barring inmates from contacting external agencies for “internal matters” without trustees’ permission. The next day, the ashram slapped a notice on Hemlata, ordering her expulsion. The sisters filed a case in the local court in March 2001 challenging the ashram’s decision. This, say many ashram inmates, was the beginning of their undoing, and the start of a 14-year-long legal battle they eventually lost. 

For greater clarity, read – Further factual analysis: Episode of the 5 Sisters   And please RT to your followers.

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