RELIGIOUS LEADERS from various communities and locals on Friday created ruckus at the ashram of Swami Balendu, popularly known as ‘Atheist Guru’, at Vrindavan in Mathura after he announced that he would organise a two-day “atheist conclave”. The district administration, which had earlier given permission for the event, immediately cancelled the same on the ground that it may hurt religious sentiments.
The organisers too later announced that they would not go ahead with the conclave. Spiritual guru-turned-atheist Swami Balendu had invited like-minded atheists, friends and acquaintances to his ashram for the conclave to be held on October 14 and 15.
He had also briefed mediapersons about the event on Thursday, where he allegedly said that religion has 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. “Swami Balendu claimed that all religious scriptures are fictitious and meant only for entertainment. His statement is against Hinduism and such leaders should be banned,” said Swami Phool Dol Das Maharaj, a sant from Vrindavan, who was among the protesters.
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Mohammad Umar Quadri, Imam of Shahi Jama Masjid of Mathura, said Balendu is a “publicity seeker” and has no right to hurt the feelings of believers. A few clerics from Jama Masjid too accompanied the protesters.
“Over 100 protesters reached Bindu Seva Sansathan Ashram around 10 am and started raising slogans and attacking ashram property. Armed with sticks, the protestors, who included local spiritual leaders, broke glass panels,” said Swami Yashvendu Goswami, brother of Balendu.
Balendu added: “Though it was a private event, we had taken all required permissions. The Constitution permits us to be non-believers. But this seems like an all out attack on freedom of expression and freedom to be a non-believer.”
Following the protest, police and district officials reached the ashram. Police managed to pacify the protestors and asked the organisers to cancel the event. “Everyone has a right to worship their God… this convention could have promoted communal disharmony… The organisers had sought permission for the event, but the permission letter did not mention that it was an atheist conclave. They decided to cancel the event on their own as it was creating alaw and order issue,” said Mathura SP (City) Alok Priyardarshi. He added that no FIR has been lodged into the matter.