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Ashram turns hell-hole for devotees

Ashram turns hell-hole for devotees
Highlights

Controversies and godmen seem to go hand in hand. Hardly a day passes without reports of such controversies coming to light. The ever-happening city of Hyderabad is not found wanting in this dubious category either. The expose of a ‘fake’ baba is the latest in the ever-growing list.

Inmates of Somanatha Kshetram of godman Somanatha Maharishi in Vanasthalipuram complain of ill-treatment by the ashram management

Controversies and godmen seem to go hand in hand. Hardly a day passes without reports of such controversies coming to light. The ever-happening city of Hyderabad is not found wanting in this dubious category either. The expose of a ‘fake’ baba is the latest in the ever-growing list. Three days ago, an anonymous group distributed pamphlets ridiculing the claims of ‘miracles and cures’ promised by a certain godman Somanatha Maharishi.

Charging that there were several mysterious deaths in the sprawling ashram campus, the pamphlets demanded an inquiry into these deaths and bringing the culprits to book. The controversy, which is gathering storm by the hour, emerged after ‘infuriated’ devotees of the self-styled Maharishi complained of forcible evictions and ill-treatment of the inmates in the four-acre ashram, Somanatha Kshetram, which is situated an ‘idyllic’ locale at Vanasthalipuram.

View  of Somanatha Kshetram

The ashram, which was built in 1993, houses two complexes-Seva Nilayam 1 and Seva Nilayam 2. The Seva Nilayams are said to be resting places of devotees who seek to spend the last leg of their lives in tranquility. The rooms in the Seva Nilayams are leased out for a period of 99 years for a sum of Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh depending upon the dimensions of the room. Reportedly, 50 devotees paid the sum and took the rooms.

However, the lease agreement was not made with all the devotees and only a few were given notorised agreement papers. Recently, the ashram authorities decided to convert the Seva Nilayam 2 into a hospital and asked the inmates to move into Seva Nilayam 1. This mandate has not gone well with the devotees. Reportedly, a few devotees, who started protesting, are being harassed by the ashram authorities.

“This is not tragic end that we came here for. When we leave the rooms the authorities are locking the doors with their own set of locks. What follows is a heated discussion to get them to open the door. Recently, an old woman sold her house in Abbasiya Nagar and took a room here. She left for Australia for a month to spend time with her relatives. When she came back she found, to her horror, that the room was locked.

The authorities gave her a really tough time before handing her room back,” informed K Vijay Kumar, a devotee and a retired superintendent with APGENCO. It is also reported that when a devotee vacates a room for good, a fair percentage of the amount paid is slashed for each year that the devotee has used the facility.

Devotees allege that this is against the terms mentioned in the agreement. When contacted, the ashram authorities refused to speak, stating that the Swami was busy with Shivaratri pujas. Later, Kumar, a representative with the ashram, branded all allegations as false.

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