The controversy surrounding the ashram of spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi took a new turn after CPM-backed Kairali TV disregarded a legal notice and aired the second episode of the interview of Gail Tredwell alias Gayatri on Thursday night and a repeat on Friday. Tredwell, in her book, Holy Hell, A Memoir of Faith, Devotion and Pure Madness, had alleged sexual exploitation and abuse at the ashram.
After Kairali TV telecast one episode of the interview earlier this week, a Delhi-based legal house issued notice against the channel asking to refrain from telecasting the programme. Kairali TV managing editor John Brittas had gone to New York to interview Tredwell. However, the channel went ahead with airing the second episode.
Ashram spokesman Raju Swami said the Muth was not involved in serving legal notice to the channel. “The stated notice might have been issued at the intervention of ashram devotees in Delhi. Amma has asked the devotees to refrain from such action.’’
The content of the book hit headlines last month, triggering discussion on social media and some TV channels in Kerala, though the leading English and Malayalam newspapers in the state blacked out the issue.
In the interview to the Kairali TV, Tredwell repeated her allegations against the ashram and went on to narrate her experiences during her three-decade-long life as Amma’s personal attendant.
Reacting to the latest controversy, prominent people led by writer Paul Zacharia, O N V Kurup and B R P Bhaskar, issued a statement saying that the attempt to prevent the media from telecasting the interview was objectionable.
However, Brittas said the channel did not take any position in the interview, instead left it to the wisdom of the viewers. “We had telecast the narco-analysis done on two priests and a nun chargesheeted in the murder of sister Abhaya and interviewed the catholic nun who published the sexual escapades of priests. Those who found these programmes as right journalistic steps have no right to point their finger at us in this issue, Brittas said.
Raju Swami said the ashram had summarily rejected the content of her book with utmost contempt. “What she wrote was mere fables. She has taken revenge upon the ashram when her intentions did not materialize. We have nothing to hide,’’ he said.