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Jayalalithaa, not Shankaracharya, is in the dock

Jayalalithaa, not Shankaracharya, is in the dock

Author: Shyam Khosla
Publication: Organiser
Date: January 24, 2005
URL: http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=61&page=7

Introduction: he police version of money having been withdrawn from a bank or received by the mutt as sale of a property to pay to the "retainers" to kill Shankaraman was torn to pieces by the petitioner's counsel. The police changed its version time and again.

The Supreme Court's scathing criticism of the prosecution for its failure to provide even a shred of evidence to link the Kanchi Shankaracharya, Swami Jayendra Saraswati, with the Shankaraman murder case has confirmed the popular perception that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J. Jayalalithaa, committed the cardinal sin of implicating a highly respected Hindu icon in the murder case. True, the apex court's orders and observations relate to the case pertaining to his bail and that the Swami has not so far been exonerated of the charges. That is why it is time for only relief and not celebrations. Given Jayalalithaa's vindictiveness, the Hindu society will have to wait for long months and years before the holy man is exonerated of the totally unbelievable charges levelled against him. No one, who knows the Swami even remotely, believed when the Tamil Nadu police went to town painting the Shankaracharya black and carried on a malicious campaign of character assassination. In its no-holds-barred slanderous campaign, they even tried to link the holy man with women. Those who committed this sin will have to pay for the damage they caused to the prestige of this highly respected spiritual leader.

The apex court's order is a slap on the face of the prosecution that had been talking of 'clinching evidence' in its possession to prove the Swami's guilt. In the first place, the court refused to believe that 39 letters, critical of functioning of the mutt, said to be written by the deceased to the Swami, was motive enough for his killing. The court observed that there was no evidence on record to show that the said letters were ever brought to the notice of the petitioner and that he showed any resentment against the deceased. The 'independent' witnesses were not employees of the mutt, the court observed and refused to believe that the Shankaracharya would have discussed murder plans in the presence of total strangers. The 'dying declaration' produced by the prosecution was no dying declaration. It turned out to be a telephonic talk between the deceased and another person and was not admissible as evidence, the apex court observed. The police version of money having been withdrawn from a bank or received by the mutt as sale of a property to pay to the 'retainers' to kill Shanka Raman was torn to pieces by the petitioner's counsel. The police changed its version time and again that left the prosecution lawyer fumbling for words to explain discrepancies in the case.

The arrest of the Junior Acharya within hours of the release of Swami Jayendra Sarswati on bail leaves no one in doubt that it is a case of pre-meditated vendetta. It also lends credence to the popular belief that the Jayalalithaa's campaign against the Shankara-charya has four-fold motivation. First, She wanted to punish the seer for having blamed her defeat in elections on her elephantine ego. Secondly, the Acharya offended her by refusing to undersell to her crony a hospital acquired by the mutt. Thirdly, she wanted to win back a part of the anti-Hindu Tamil votes by targeting Hindu icons and finally, she wanted state control over the highly influential and respected mutt that has enormous resources and wealth. There is no other explanation barring her hostility to the mutt for the timing of the arrest of the junior Acharya. If the Supreme Court found no merit in keeping the senior Acharya in custody in the conspiracy case, there is hardly any chance of the courts taking a different view in the case of his junior. But she must do her worst to hurt the Acharyas.

The Chief Minister stands exposed as a person abusing her powers and the state machinery for partisan ends. It is she and others of her ilk that are in the dock, and not the Acharyas. Her actions have disrupted the centuries-old tradition of uninterrupted puja at the mutt. This and the falsehood spread about the holy men have deeply hurt not only his followers but also the entire Hindu society. Hindus are unlikely to forgive her for the insults she had heaped on their religious and cultural icons. She may have to pay a very heavy political price for her unrestrained attacks on the Hindus. The Tamil Nadu police are no less guilty. It spread canards by selectively leaking false information about the alleged, confession by the seer and his alleged message to the Chief Minister begging forgiveness. One of the women, the police alleged has relations with the Swami and was absconding, went to the police to damn the police version. She is a cancer patient and a devotee of the Swami and told the police that she had often spoken to the Swami on phone to seek his blessings, whenever she felt depressed.

The media too behaved irresponsibly. It lapped up the canards fed by the police and the liberal rabble-rousers and presented these as gospel truth. It is high time the media do some soul searching. Is trial by media fair to the society and the persons concerned? No social purpose is served by lapping up lies and half-truths dished out by the police and interested parties to malign persons and outfits they target. Is it not the job of the mediapersons to cross-check the facts before making them public? And last but not the least, isn't it the job of the Press Council of India to discipline the media by exercising its moral authority? Has the Council performed its duty? One wonders if the Council has forgotten its role and is already half dead!

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