Ayodhya sadhu detained in Agra
A sadhu from Ayodhya has been detained in Agra for trying to vitiate the atmosphere on Id after he reached the Taj Mahal with the stated intention of “purifying” the mausoleum and offering prayers to Lord Shiva there.
Paramhans Das, 48, a member of Tapaswi Chawani (ashram) in Ayodhya, has been kept in a guesthouse in Agra and police sources said he would be allowed to leave in a day or two after being charged with breach of peace. He and his associates had tried to enter the Taj Mahal compound earlier on April 27 as well with the same purpose but were stopped.
“I am here to conduct a ritual and purify the Taj Mahal with holy water from the Ganga. It is actually Tejo Mahalya, a temple to Lord Shiva,” the saffron-clad Paramhans Das said, iterating a claim being increasingly made by Hindutva groups.
A senior police officer in Agra said: “Paramhans Das wanted to carry his stick inside the Taj Mahal. He was also hell-bent on performing some rituals there. As he refused to follow the rules, we took him into custody for vitiating the atmosphere. He will be kept at the state government’s Keetham Jheel Guesthouse in the Sikandara area and sent back to Ayodhya in a day or two.”
Sticks are among the objects banned inside the Taj Mahal premises.
“We will register a case against the sadhu as we can’t afford any theatrics here on the occasion of Id,” the officer said, preferring anonymity in view of the sensitivities involved in a state whose chief minister is a saffron-clad monk.
R.K. Patel, the superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of India that is responsible for the upkeep of the Taj Mahal, told reporters in Agra: “We have a rulebook to follow. Namaz is traditionally offered at the mosque on the Taj premise every Friday and on Id. Any other religious or promotional activity is not allowed there.”
Patel said Id namaz was offered at the Taj Mahal from 8am to 8.30am on Tuesday.
Paramhans Das told reporters before he was taken to the guesthouse: “I reached Agra at 11am and the police took me into custody at noon. They kept taking me from one place to another and informed me after 4pm that they would keep me in a guesthouse somewhere in the city.”
Later, Paramhans Das released a video from the guesthouse where he declared: “I will not leave Agra before performing puja at the Tejo Mahalya. I don’t recognise the Taj Mahal there.”
One of the two disciples of Paramhans Das who accompanied him to Agra can be seen in the video sitting beside him.
“On April 27, the security guards at the gate of the Tejo Mahalya had asked me to remove my saffron robe and leave behind my dandi (stick of a sadhu). They didn’t let me enter because I refused to obey them. The saffron robe and dandi symbolise sanatan tradition,” Paramhans Das said in the video.
However, Patel clarified: “We don’t have any problem with his saffron robe but he can’t take a stick inside as it is a banned object there. I had personally called him up after the April 27 incident and invited him to visit the Taj Mahal like other tourists. He is not ready to deposit his stick with the CISF at the gate and collect it on return. We can’t do anything in this situation.”