Spiritual gurus soft targets as no clear policy to secure them

Spiritual gurus soft targets as no clear policy to secure them
Team DNA
Tuesday, June 1, 2010 2:11 IST

New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore: What kind of security are spiritual leaders provided? The question has assumed significance a day after a gunman shot at the convoy of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar near Bangalore on Sunday.

Tragedy at Mangalore AirportWhile the Art of Living founder has forgiven the gunman and invited him to his ashram, and the Karnataka police are playing down the incident as not a ‘targeted attack’, the issue of protection of religious and spiritual leaders, who move around freely among thousands of devotees and thus remain soft targets for miscreants, has come across as a concern for many.

Sources in the Union home ministry said there are no guidelines or norms to provide security to religious leaders. “The security is related to developments and is provided by the state governments as and when needed,” they said, adding that such attacks are generally the fallout of internal rivalries involving followers.

Buttressing the ministry’s point of view, a Delhi police source said the force had no trend of providing personal security either to such persons or to their establishments. “We do not provide security to any religious leader. Arrangements are made if the religious heads or their sects organise functions.”

The case with the Mumbai police, who have decided to re-examine the security cover to visiting religious leaders after the Bangalore incident, is similar. Currently, they have provision for Z plus security to two religious leaders — Nirankari Baba Hardev Singh and Sathya Sai Baba. As for the others, the police examine the scheduled places of visit and assess the threat perception.

“Each time a religious leader visits the city, we examine the level of security to be provided,” said Naval Bajaj, additional commissioner of police (Protection).

“Depending on whether the leader has recently been in controversy and the number of followers, we draw up a security cover that needs to be provided,” he added.

However, post the Pune bakery blast in February, the central security agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau, have been keeping a watch over spiritual centres across India. “The intelligence input gathered after the incident has created an additional burden on the security agencies towards providing security for seers and religious and spiritual centres,” observed an officer in the agency.

However, fool-proof security to spiritual gurus is not an easy task. In Karnataka, over 500 police personnel provide security to seers. But the proliferating number of swamijis and seers from each community makes it an onerous task.

Besides, spiritual leaders like to mingle with their devotees and brook no involvement of the police in gatherings. The alleged bid on Sri Sri at his Kanakapura ashram has exposed this vulnerability. He has Z-category security, say senior police officers.

DNA India Reference

250 Religious Heads Flag Off Save Ganga Campaign In Delhi

Varanasi On The River Ganges

Varanasi On The River Ganges

250 Religious Heads Flag Off Save Ganga Campaign In Delhi
18 Aug 2008, 0722 hrs IST, IANS

NEW DELHI: A group of 250 spiritual heads representing most of the religious sects and Hindu organisations across India on Sunday launched the “Save the Ganga campaign” in the capital.

The campaign, “Awiral Ganga, Nirmal Ganga: From Gangotri to Ganga Sagar”, aims to clean up the river right from its source in the Himalayas to where it drains into the Bay of Bengal at Ganga Sagar in West Bengal by reducing pollution and demanding national heritage status for the river.

The agenda of the umbrella organisation Ganga Raksha Manch includes penalising polluters, preventing drainage of industrial and domestic effluents in the river, opposing the proposed Ganga Express Highway by the Uttar Pradesh government, lobbying for the relocation of industries along the river bank, and opposing the further expansion of the Tehri Dam project in Uttarakhand.

The 250-member Marg Darshak Mandal, or the advisory committee comprising the religious leaders, will advise the Ganga Raksha Manch on how to make the campaign effective.

Senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal and yoga guru Baba Ramdev are at the helm of the committee.

As part of the campaign, pressure groups across the country will organise rallies September 18 and march to the offices of the district collectors and district magistrate to submit charters listing the demands of the Ganga Raksha Manch.

Seers like Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living Foundation, Asaram Bapu, Murari Bapu and Pranab Pandya, head of the Global Gayatri Parivar, will observe a token fast for a day September 18 to protest the unchecked pollution of the river and press for steps for clean Ganges.

The Ganga Raksha Manch has constituted a Kar Sevak (workers’) committee, which will mobilise the youth in 550 districts across 28 states and seven union territories to implement the Ganga action plan on the ground in a phased manner.

“The campaign will also include cleaning up of the Yamuna river and its tributaries. How can we clean up Ganga without cleaning up the Yamuna first?” VHP leader Ashok Singhal said when asked if plans included cleaning up of Yamuna river as well.

“This is a not a political campaign. The threat posed by the pollution of Ganga cuts across party lines and we want all political parties to join the campaign,” Baba Ramdev told a packed a press conference Sunday at the Pahari Gurudwara in south Delhi, where the spiritual heads congregated to flag off the new Ganga action drive.

The Raksha Manch is also protesting further construction of the Tehri Dam. Sounding a note of caution, Ramdev said: “The dam will collapse one of these days and the entire eco-system along the catchment area of the Tehri river, its tributaries and the Ganga will be jeopardised, resulting in a natural disaster.”

The Ganga Raksha Manch said the proposed Ganga Express Highway in Uttar Pradesh would take away nearly 155,293 acres of fertile farmland and displace 600 villages along the route.


Shiva Ganga Devi

Shiva Ganga Devi