What music does his holiness recommend forgers?

Three things stand out in the case of the momentary “arrest” of Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji, the postman turned pontiff of the Avadhoota Datta Peetham, on Sunday, 25 May 2008, in connection with the alleged forgery of documents in a land encroachment case next to his ashram in Mysore.

The first is its astonishing timing. Coming as it did in the middle of the swamiji‘s 66th birthday celebrations which were on in full steam, the negative publicity generated by the sight of “one of the rare living avataras” in the cop-house has impacted the enthusiasm of his VVIP guests. Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has dropped out. Union home minister Shivaraj Patil too is said to be having slightly cold feet.

The second is the not very happy spectacle of a “divine guide” (who preaches music as therapy) standing accused of as murky an earthly activity as fudging land records, with the alleged connivance of city officials, for 120,000 square feet. Running parallel to this is the ham-handed attempt by ashram functionaries and factotums to bulldoze their way and to prevent government officials and the media from doing their job.

The third, most remarkable, aspect of l’affaire Sachchidananda swamiji is the extraordinary display of steel and spine by our top bureaucrats and police officers.

The cynical view is that they all uniformly have knees of cheese when ranged against the rich, powerful and influential—and that everybody is on the take. But in the case on hand, we get to see a welcome demonstration of the long arm of the law doing what it is expected to, without fear or favour. (It’s another matter that further investigations in “crime no 26/2008” have since been stayed by the high court.)

The documents below provide some evidence of that. The first two pages, in English, is the letter that deputy commissioner and district magistrate P. Manivannan wrote to the investigating police officer in the case on May 22, three days before the swamiji‘s “arrest”. And the last two pages, in Kannada, is the report of the department of land records, on May 15, which after months of dithering, finally got its act together.

On page 2 of his letter, Manivannan notes:

“During the meeting [with ashram neighbour Dr S.R. Anil Kumar], three issues struck me

i) There is an interchange of survey numbers, which is normally not noticed in most of the survey documents. There was no convincing replay by the representatives of the [Ganapati Sachchidananda swami] ashram as to why the survey numbers have been interchanged.

ii) The documents produced by Dr S.R. Anil Kumar showed that there was a Gift Deed executed by the pontiff of the ashram, Shri Ganapati Sachchidananda to the ashram trust wherein the survey number mentioned was 106/3. But this survey number was not owned by Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda at that point of time.

iii) A part of survey no. 106/3 has been acquired by the government. But, surprisingly, the whole survey number has been shown as private property transferred to the ashram.

Manivannan places on record that when he ordered a survey to have a better clarity of things, “ashram representatives approached me and desperately wanted to stop the survey.”

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The report of the deputy director of land records, dated 15 May 2008, affirming the alleged switch of survey numbers, that has resulted in the Ganapati Sachchidananda swamiji getting embroiled in the case, leading to his “arrest” last Sunday.

Photograph:courtesy Avadhoota Datta Peetham

Also read: God moves in mysterious ways. Godmen too.

Why P. Manivannan evokes fear, loyalty & awe

CHURUMURI POLL: Revoke Manivannan transfer?