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Ananda Marg hub turns battleground, monk killed

Calcutta/Purulia/Ranchi, Sept. 19: One Ananda Margi died and nine others were seriously injured when rival groups clashed last evening inside the global headquarters of the socio-religious order in Purulia.

According to reports, the power play, on for the past several months between Bengali and Hindi-speaking monks, climaxed over which group would control the administration of the Ananda Marg Institute of Technology, located inside the headquarters at Pundag, about 380 km from Calcutta.

“The clash, the death and the free use of firearms are a sequel to the long-standing feud between rival groups of Ananda Margis, one dominated by the Margis from Bengal, the other by those from Bihar. Last night, the former attacked those from Bihar…. We came to know about the incident only when a specific complaint was lodged,” said B.P. Gopalika, the district magistrate of Purulia.

Abhi Premananda Avadhoot, 52, died on way to a Ranchi hospital, deputy inspector-general of police (headquarters) Narayan Ghosh said in Calcutta. Among the nine admitted to hospital with injuries, the condition of Acharya Shayamanand was said to be serious. Six persons, including five monks, have been arrested so far, Ghosh said.

“We are conducting further raids in search of some other Margis involved in yesterday’s clash. Those absconding will be arrested in a day or two. Besides, a police picket has been posted in front of the ashram to ward off further trouble,” superintendent of police V.K. Goel said, adding that similar clashed had taken place in June and December. “The problem is that we do not know much about what is going on inside the ashram as the Margis refuse to lodge complaints with the police.”

The police action came on the basis of a complaint filed by Acharya Daya Shekharananda Avadhoot with Joypur police station.

Manteswarnanda Avadhoot, a spokesman for the Marg based at the eastern zonal headquarters at Tiljala in Calcutta, regretted the “infighting”. “It is sad that we are fighting against one another forgetting the ideals of the late Pravat Ranjan Sarkar, founder of the Ananda Marg Pracharak Sangh,” he said.

He complained that some Marg veterans from Bihar had formed a coterie in the Purulia headquarters taking advantage of the illness of Shradhananda Avadhoot, the head of the Margis. No one could be contacted at the Purulia Ananda Marg office despite several attempts.

According to Marg sources, the trouble started around 5.30 pm yesterday when a group entered the prayer hall armed with choppers, bows and arrows and iron rods and closed the windows before attacking those inside.

The first to be attacked was Acharya Daya Shekharananda Avadhoot, but he escaped with minor injuries. Soon the prayer hall turned into a battlefield. In the melee, Abhi Premananda Avadhoot and some others received serious injuries.

However, some among the Margis blamed the local unit of the CPM for yesterday’s clash. “The CPM cadre have infiltrated our ranks. The fight was for the post of principal of the engineering college.

“The previous principal, Kalyneshwarananda, was a CPM man. Though he was transferred two months ago, he was not vacating his chamber. When the new incumbent, Jyoti Prakashananda, had gone to get the chamber vacated, a clash ensued,” said Sushimitananda, who is admitted to the Ranchi hospital with fractures in his ribs.

Jyoti Prakashananda, the new principal, was thrown from the first floor and has suffered serious limb injuries.

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