INVESTIGATIONS BY the Panchkula police into the activities of Mahant Jai Prakash Giri, who was arrested Tuesday night for sodomising three male disciples, have revealed that the ‘gaushala’ being run by him on the banks of Ghaggar river was virtually a safe haven for consuming drugs and gambling.
The ‘Baikunth Dham Shamshanghat Gaushala’, spread over half an acre of land, had been seeing these illegal activities since 2006 when a committee running the ‘gaushala’ was disbanded by the followers of Mahant Jai Parkash Giri who shifted there in 2004. Earlier, the ‘gaushala’ was known as Sri Krishan Gopal Gaushala and later its name was changed to Baikunth Dham Shamshanghat Gaushala.
One of the victims of Mahant Giri said, “He used to hypnotize us after giving drugs. He forced us to have sex with him. Whenever we raised objection, he threatened us with dire consequences. Recently, on October 3, my younger brother was assaulted by five followers of Mahant Giri when my brother raised objections over his wrongdoings. We reported to police, which took merely preventive action under Section 107/151 of CrPC against the five men.”
Three victims, including one, who was a minor when he came to the cow shelter and had bee staying there now for last nine years, recorded their statements under Section 164 of the CrPC before a local magistrate in district courts, Panchkula, on Thursday.
Sham Lal, a former member of Panchyat Samiti Kharak Mangoli village, Sector 1, Panchkula, said, “The panchayat samiti donated the land for the cremation ground and a small shrine in 1980. Later, Panchyat Samiti donated a piece of land for the construction of a cow shelter. From 1980 to 2004, the cremation ground and small shrine were maintained by the guru of Mahant Giri, who passed away in 2004, and subsequently Mahant Giri took the charge of entire premises and also started operating a cow shelter. Although people visit the cow shelter, donate money, fodder for the cows, it has become the den for unsocial elements. Addicts and gamblers always considered this cow shelter a safe haven. I was also one of the members of committee, which was looking after the affairs of cow shelter and cremation ground. In 2006, Giri through his followers completely took charge of cow shelter.”
Sham Lal recorded his statement at the Sector 7 police post on Thursday. The investigating officer, Sub-Inspector Mohan Lal, said Mahant Giri’s room located inside the cow shelter had been searched for forensic evidence and efforts were being made to recover Aadhaar cards of three victims, which were forcibly kept by Mahant Giri.
Bhagat Ram Gupta, a Sector 6 resident and former president of Sri Krishan Gopal Gushala, said, “I stopped interfering in the affairs of cow shelter when our committee was disbanded. But I am still donating money, fodder for the welfare of cows. Hundreds of people come here to donate money and fodder. Seven workers are working in the cow shelter on the salary of Rs 6,000 to Rs 9,000 being paid by Mahant Giri.”
Although one of the victims claimed a musk of deer was recovered from the room of Mahant Giri at Gaushala, probe officer Mohan Lal said they recovered injections and would send these for scientific examination.