Agra: Self-proclaimed ‘atheist guru’ booked for hurting religious sentiments

Swami Balendu Goswami had planned a conclave at his ashram on Oct 14 and 15

Written by Ishita Mishra | Agra | Published:November 2, 2016 3:42 am

WEEKS AFTER a two-day “atheist conclave” at Vrindavan in Mathura was cancelled by the district administration, police have lodged an FIR against Swami Balendu Goswami — a self-proclaimed ‘atheist Guru’ — on charges of hurting religious sentiments and posting provocative comments on Facebook.

The FIR, registered at the Vrindavan police station on Monday, is based on a complaint filed by 150 sants and representatives of other religions. Those who signed the complaint included Mahant Phooldol Das Maharaj, Mahamandeleshwar Naval Giri, Aazad Ahmed and Naraian Yadav.

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Last month, religious leaders and locals protested at the ashram of Goswami in Vrindavan after he announced that he would organise the “atheist conclave”. The district administration, which had earlier given permission for the event, cancelled the same on the ground that it may hurt religious sentiments. Goswami had invited like-minded atheists, friends and acquaintances to his ashram in for the conclave on October 14 and 15. He had also briefed mediapersons about the event, when he allegedly said that religion had become a “business” that thrives on fear in the minds of people. While dubbing religion as “poison”, he also reportedly compared gods with comic characters.

When contacted, Mathura SP (City) Ashok Kumar said: “The complainants have alleged that Balendu has hurt the sentiments of all religions by abusing their gods… The case against Goswami and his aides has been lodged under Sections 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) of the IPC and Section 67 of the IT Act.”

“The IT Act has been included in the FIR due to the provocative comments posted on Facebook, allegedly by Goswami, in which he has abused gods and also accused the police and administration for not supporting him,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ramona Goswami, a German citizen and the wife of Swami Balendu Goswami, has sought the intervention of her Consulate in the matter. “In a letter to the German Embassy, I have written about harassment I faced at the hands of the local administration and police. I have requested them to ensure my safety in India…,” she said, adding that she and my daughter are German citizens of Indian origin.

Ramona, however, refused to speak on the FIR lodged against her husband, who was also not available for comment.