Thursday, Oct 16, 2003
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By Our Staff Reporter
Local people had beaten up the ashram inmates, and a doctor, Shyamaprasad, accompanying the swamis, has been admitted to a private hospital in a critical condition.
The team, including four `swaminis', came in three cars for inquiring about an `inmate' who they allege had left the ashram on October 13 without permission. The 23-year-old woman, Akhila Janani, had been living in the ashram for the past nine years, it is said.
The local people, however, aver that Akhila was brought back to her home by her parents. Fearing that the ashram authorities might take her back by force, her father had on Tuesday met the Kollam Superintendent of Police, S. Sreejith, and sought police protection in the event of such a development. Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Sreejith has confirmed this.
When the ashram authorities reached Akhila's house on Tuesday night, they found the gate locked. While making inquiries, a group of locals arrived there in a car and are reported to have pounced on the ashram inmates. The ashram people who fled the scene are reported to have sought refuge in some nearby houses.
The local people are learnt to have held some of the ashram inmates hostage. The police arrived on the scene and rescued them later. The locals said that Akhila's parents had, in fact, ``rescued her from the ashram following some development there''. However, the police have not received any complaints even from the girl's parents about the arrival of the ashram authorities at the house, Mr. Sreejith said. The police had gone to the scene after they got information that some swamis were being held hostage by a violent mob, the SP said.
Meanwhile, seven members from the ashram, including four women, were arrested by the police and soon let off on bail. While Mr. Sreejith confirmed the arrest of the inmates under charges of criminal trespass, the director of the ashram, Guru Ratna Swamy, denied that any one from the ashram had been arrested. The swamy told The Hindu that all the inmates rescued by the police were soon dropped at the ashram in a police vehicle. The swamy said that since things had gone to such an extent it would be better if Akhila herself spoke out. He said that she was an asset to the ashram and was holding the post of secretary of Guru Mahima, the youth wing of the ashram.
Dr. Shaymaparasad was beaten up when the locals located him in a nearby house. By then, the police had left the scene. The police later rescued the doctor and took way seven local people to the Chathannur police station. Alleging that they were subjected to `third degree' torture at the police station, the local people today took out a march to the near Kottiyam police station. On the intervention of the SP, they were released on bail in the evening.
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