INDIA. Mumbai: Despite opposition by the Congress and certain anti-superstition groups, a discourse by controversial godman Dhirendra Krishna Shastri alias Baageshwar Dham Sarkar, organised at Central Park, Mira Road, on the outskirts of Mumbai, went on peacefully amid tight police security on Saturday evening.
The two-day program is being held under the aegis of the Bhayandar-based Smt. Shantaben Mithalal Jain Charitable Trust, led by MLA Geeta Jain. Shastri, who heads the Baageshwar Dham near Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, is on a two-day visit (March 18–19) to Mumbai. He is a proponent of “Hindu Rashtra” and “Akhand Bharat”.
Citing violations of the Anti-Superstitious and Black Magic Act, 2013, and the Drug and Magic Remedies Act, 1954, the activists of the Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (ANiS) led by Madhukar Kamble met with police officials on Friday to register their protest against the program.
The complaint stated that Dhirendra Shastri has claimed in his viral videos that he possesses supernatural powers, and his videos on YouTube show the usage of mantras to diagnose and cure many illnesses. These are punishable offences.
State Congress president Nana Patole had also written to deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, opposing the visit of Dhirendra Shastri, claiming that he had hurt the sentiments of lakhs of devotees by making a statement insulting Jagatguru Sant Tukaram Maharaj. Patole had urged Fadnavis that the state government should not allow his programme.
In response, the Mira Road police slapped a notice under Criminal Procedure Code 149 on organising committee member Suresh Khandelwal, to ensure that neither historic figures are insulted in any manner nor any statements are made that will hurt the sentiments of any religion or lead to law and order problems.
Though his name is shrouded in controversy, scores of his disciples turned up to receive him at the city airport, and also crowded Central Park Ground on Saturday evening.
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