Ashutosh Maharaj ‘clinically dead’, Punjab Police tell HC
Chandigarh, February 5
The police maintained Ashutosh Maharaj was not being illegally detained. The report of a police investigation report was also placed before the Bench in a sealed envelope.
As the case came up for resumed hearing today, an affidavit by Nakodar Deputy Superintendent of Police HPS Parmar was presented in the court. It said the Nurmahal police had come to know that Ashutosh Maharaj had expired, but his organisation continued to claim that he had gone into “samadhi” (deep meditation).
He, along with the Nurmahal SHO and the Duty Magistrate, visited the organisation before procuring the medical report of doctors who attended on the alleged detainee on January 29. “Based upon the medical report and the status report, the deponent submits that the alleged detainee is not in an illegal confinement, as alleged by the petitioner,” Parmar added in the affidavit.
The medical report prepared by Dr Harpal Singh Nadda, Dr Kartar Kaur, and Dr Ashok, submitted along with the affidavit, clearly asserted: “Ashutosh Maharaj had sudden cardiac arrest around 12.10 am on January 29”. A clinical examination revealed that “all peripheral pulses were absent; blood pressure was not recordable; there were no spontaneous respiratory movements; all superficial and deep reflexes were absent; both pupils fixed and dilated and ECG record showed absence of any electrical activity”.
Narinder Singh, a follower of the spiritual leader, however, insisted that Ashutosh Maharaj was in “samadhi” in a deep freezer in a room. Taking on record the affidavit, Justice MMS Bedi observed a writ of habeas corpus, for production or release of a detainee, was prima facie “legally not maintainable” in this case as the spiritual guru had been declared clinically dead. Before fixing February 11 as the next date of hearing, Justice Bedi asked counsel for the petitioner to “satisfy” the court on the issue of maintainability of the petition.
Puran Singh had earlier told the court that the spiritual leader was being detained illegally as five of his followers had “turned greedy”.In his habeas corpus petition against Punjab, through the Home Secretary and five “residents of Dera Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan”, Puran Singh had sought his release from “illegal, unlawful and forcible detention”. Puran Singh had said in the petition that the detainee had to his credit about Rs 100 crore in cash, and property worth Rs 1,000 crore. But the respondents, residing in the dera, had turned greedy; and had illegally confined the detainee in a room with a “view to usurp the dera property”.
What report says
Officials allowed to see Ashutosh
Nurmahal, February 5
Initially, the dera representatives were not ready to allow officials see Ashutosh’s body.
An official, who went into the enclosure, said a four-hour meeting was held with dera representatives and they were told that a report on Ashutosh Maharaj’s condition was to be submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
“The dera representatives allowed us to have a glimpse of Ashutosh only after we told them that in case they did not allow us to see the body, we will be compelled to enter forcibly,” another officer said.
The officials who saw the body, included SSP (Rural) Jaspreet Singh Sidhu, Nakodar DSP Harminder Pal Singh, Nurmahal SHO Vijay Gumber and Phillaur SDM Jasvir Singh.
IG (Zonal), Jalandhar, Balbir Kumar Bawa confirmed that the officials had seen the body of Ashutosh. The body had been kept in a portable mortuary at 2°C, he added. “The condition of the body has started deteriorating and the colour of the skin is becoming blackish,” he said.
During a visit to Nurmahal, The Tribune team was initially refused permission to enter the dera. However, after some persuasion, dera security personnel allowed the team to enter the dera, but no one from the institution interacted with the team. The dera still maintains that Ashutosh Maharaj is in “samadhi”.
The chronology *
Jan 29, 2014: There are reports that Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan dera head Ashutosh has died *
Jan 30: The dera claims Ashutosh is in “samadhi”; security beefed up at dera *
Feb 3: Dera representatives admit Ashutosh’s body has been kept in a freezer. The high court directs the Punjab Govt to submit a report on Ashutosh by February 5 *
Feb 4: Senior police and administrative officials hold four-hour meeting with dera men *
Feb 5: Top officials admit they have seen the body of Ashutosh lying in a portable mortuary; the police tell high court that Ashutosh is ‘clinically dead’
* Jan 29, 2014: There are reports that Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan dera head Ashutosh has died
* Jan 30: The dera claims Ashutosh is in “samadhi”; security beefed up at dera
* Feb 3: Dera representatives admit Ashutosh’s body has been kept in a freezer. The high court directs the Punjab Govt to submit a report on Ashutosh by February 5
* Feb 4: Senior police and administrative officials hold four-hour meeting with dera men
* Feb 5: Top officials admit they have seen the body of Ashutosh lying in a portable mortuary; the police tell high court that Ashutosh is ‘clinically dead’