Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 24:
With the spotlight focused firmly on the Trahi Achyuta ashram at Jhiinti on the outskirts of the city after the recent arrest of two hard-core criminals from Bihar who were ferrying devotees to the ashram for years, it has now come to light that the Odisha government went out of its way to promote the ashram as a leading tourism destination in the state.
In a bid to attract more tourists from India and abroad, the state government, in its Khordha district portal, has glorified the ashram and its present head Sura Baba.
Besides, the government has also mentioned the website address and e-mail id of the ashram, phone numbers and a route chart for the tourists to reach the ashram, which is situated at Jhiinti Sasan village of Balakati block on the outskirts of the state capital.
Incorporation of Trahi Achyuta Ashram with 10 major tourist sites of Khordha district including Bhubaneswar, Chilika, Khandagiri, Dhauligiri, Nandankanan, Atri and Chausathi Yogini temple has surprised one and all.
Sources in the locality said a number of top government officials, political leaders, businessmen and senior police officers frequently visit the ashram to seek the blessings of the Baba.
The villagers are afraid of revealing the shady goings-on in the ashram, the kind of people living inside the ashram and the income of the ashram as some of their fellow villagers have paid a heavy price in the past for protesting against the ashram and have had to leave the village altogether. The complaints lodged by these harassed villagers were swept under the carpet by the law enforcement agencies.
According to a scholar doing research on the Achyutananda Peetha at Nemala, the original centre of meditation of Achyutananda, creator of the famous “Malika”, is Nemala in Salepur block of Cuttack district.
“The name and fame of Achyutananda has been commercially exploited by the Trahi Achyuta Ashram,” he added.
The Ashram used to collect huge money from the people who turn up in large numbers to know about their future. Besides, it has also opened its branch in Mumbai and other places from where it collects huge money from the people. But the state government is yet to investigate the modus operandi of the ashram.
Sources also said that the Sura Baba, the present ashram head, has succeeded in his efforts by inviting eminent personalities to the ashram on the pretext of attending functions. The Baba has managed to influence the common people by flaunting photographs of these eminent personalities with him and in the ashram.
It may be mentioned that a team of Special Task Force from Bihar, with the help of Laxmisagar police station in Bhubaneswar, had arrested two notorious criminals from Bihar on August 18 this year.
The two arrested criminals— Abhay Singh and Manjeet Saha – have as many as 40 criminal cases pending against them in various police stations in Bihar. At least nine cases of murder are registered against the duo who were on the run since last 17 years.
Besides murder, the accused were also involved in dacoity, bombing, kidnapping, burglary and loot cases.
The absconders had allegedly taken shelter at the Trahi Achyuta ashram and were working as van drivers in the ashram apart from extending their services during various religious functions at the ashram, police said.