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Nationwide protests on Shankaracharya's arrest

Nationwide protests on Shankaracharya's arrest

Author: Our Correspondents
Publication: Organiser
Date: December 5, 2004
URL: http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=53&page=23

The Political vendetta is now clear as daylight. The tide seemed to turn slightly, with the Kanchipuram magistrate refusing to grant the prosecution request to extend the police custody for Kanchi Sankaracharya Shri. Jayendra Saraswati on November 22. But on November 26, he sent the Acharya for another 15 days judicial custody. Though his remand period ended on November 26, a fresh warrant of arrest was handed on November 25, to the Seer in prison in an "attempt to murder case". That is in connection with the assault in Chennai two years back on one Radhakrishnan by hired goons. Meanwhile, the old Sankararaman case against the Seer promises to crash under falsehood.

The words, "I said so" were on the lips of almost everyone in the Kanchipuram Magistrate court when two key accused in the Sankararaman murder case on Wednesday, November 24, alleged before the court that they were tortured by the police during their custody. The Kanchi Seer himself had said soon after he was arrested on November 11 that "the case was a foisted one" and "the police had conspired" to sully his name.

Kathiravan, one of the accused, during his submission said that the police compelled him to endorse whatever they said in the case. Another accused Rajini alias Chinna also intervened to say that he was also tortured by the police. But quoting insiders, eminent analyst Shri. S.Gurumurthy wrote in 'The New Indian Express' on November 23 that "the police seem to have got not the Rajni alias Chinna, but some other Rajni and got him to confess to the crime. The real Rajni alias Chinna is still untraced". That in fact confounds the matter further. Was this the "solid evidence" with the police that Chief Minister Jayalalithaa talked of in her prepared statement-justifying the arrest of the Seer-in the Tamil Nadu State Legislative Assembly on November 17, many wonder. Both the accused were further remanded till December 8. Notorious don Appu, the kingpin in the crime is still at large.

The prosecution had been fumbling badly from the very start. It had tried to justify the hasty arrest of the Seer on Deepavali by alleging that the Seer was planning to flee to Nepal via Pune in a helicopter. In this context the Tamil Nadu police should have sought information from the Pune police. But obviously they never did that. "The statement made by the Pune Commissioner Shri. D.N. Jadhav that the Pune Police had no idea whatsoever about any probable plan of the Swamiji about the escape to Nepal and that no police quarter from Tamil Nadu ever visited Pune in this regard would show that the prosecution was only trying to prejudice the mind of the public and the Court to scuttle the moves of Swamiji from getting bail." (as reported in 'The Hitavada' on November 18).

Both Shri M. Karunanidhi and J.Jayalalithaa cut a sorry figure now. Karunanidhi of the DMK made a neat U turn by saying that Jayalalithaa had "personal and political motive" in arresting the Seer, whereas he had patted the police for the same earlier. This was not without reason. There are reports about reopening a two year old murder case probe in which Karunanidhi's son M.K.Stalin was sought to be linked. Jayalalithaa's lengthy denial (occupying half a page in daily newspapers) juxtaposed with the bunglings of the prosecution, only make one to suspect whether the case is bona fide.

The week-long nationwide protest demonstrations-peaceful but forceful-by Hindus were unprecedented. The VHP led the Hindu organisations in the dharnas, human chains and bandhs all over the country. The spontaneous rallying of venerated Sants and Mahants in Haridwar, Delhi, Guwahati, Bangalore and other places ably delivered the message to the powers that be. The Bangalore saints meet on November 24, was remarkable. Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Sri Sri Ravi-shankar and Swami Vishwesateertha of Pejawar Peetham, among others, expressed their resentment over the way Kanchi Sankaracharya was treated.

BJP also gave the campaign a national dimension. On November 22, former Prime Minister Shri. Atal Behari Vajpayee sat on day-long fast in Delhi protesting the arrest of the Kanchi Seer. Former President of India, Shri. R.Venkataraman and former Prime Minister Shri. Chandra-shekar joined him.

In Chennai, Shri L.K. Advani, former Deputy Prime Minister and national president of BJP spoke at a massive public meeting to codemn the Seer's arrest. He said the incidents that unfolded after the arrest of Sri Jayendra Saraswathi on Deepavali day reminded him of the declaration of Emergency by the Congress Government in 1975. With censorship of news, there were not many visible protests but the voters expressed their anger against the Government during the 1977 elections. There might be a similar silence among people now but a large cross-section was deeply anguished at the manner in which the Shankaracharya was arrested and treated.

Pooja and other religious activities of the Sankara Mutt at Kanchipuram go on as before. After an initial shock, the devotees throng the Mutt to seek the blessings from the junior Sankaracharya Shri Vijayendra Saraswati. Like many, Vijayendra Swami is hurt by the behaviour of a section of the press sensationalising the development and on occasions twisting facts. Podhigai, Doordarshan's Tamil channel, was as bad as DMK's Sun TV and ruling AIADMK's Jaya TV in covering the case.
 


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