We are disappointed that wild rumours are being circulated by vested interests regarding alleged acts of violence against the trustees of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust during the Silent Protest on February 26th, 27th and 28th of 2012. It is not surprising that some individuals and institutions associated with these vested interests have begun smear campaigns and have announced radical and fundamentalist responses based on these wild rumours without verifying facts.
1. From February 26th to 28th a group of about 450 Beneficiaries of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust held a Silent Protest in front of the office of the trust board of the Ashram Trust. This was in continuation of the Silent Protest held from January 1st to 7th of 2012 in which about 150 Beneficiaries participated.
2. Both protests were organised to raise public awareness regarding the ongoing anti-national actions of the present trustees which have caused irreparable harm to the Ashram. These actions include but are not limited to:
a) misuse of public funds to protect a person declared criminal and anti-national by the Government of India, namely Peter Heehs;
b) deliberately deceiving the Government of India regarding Heehs’ perverse activities and his violations of visa conditions;
c) misuse of the Ashram’s name and finances to promote abuse of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
3. On both occasions, the Pondicherry Police was formally approached for their permission and the requisite permissions were granted. Consequently a company of policemen was prominently present throughout both Silent Protests.
4. On 27th February, the second day of the recent Silent Protest, a group of anguished Beneficiaries was keen to submit a petition to the trustees of the Ashram Trust, detailing the lapses of the trustees. When they found the trustees going to the office of the trust board, they took the opportunity to personally submit their petition. This was done politely and with respect as seen in the video footage available.
5. The first three trustees entered their office rudely and disdainfully refused to receive the petition offered to them, and chose to walk into their office ignoring the pleas of the Beneficiaries to accept their petition. When one of the trustees, Dr Dilip Datta, was approached with the petition, he shouted at the Beneficiaries in anger and made racially insulting remarks. His daughter joined in and made racially insulting remarks against the people of Odisha. Some of the Beneficiaries asked Dr. Datta to apologise.
6. Dr Datta angrily and violently grabbed the petition, tore and crumpled it, and threw it in the gutter in full public view. He then began to violently push the Beneficiaries around him.
7. Dr Datta’s nephew was present and tried to prevent him from harming others. At several points in the video, he is seen grabbing Dr. Datta from behind and pulling him back, while Dr. Datta is straining and wildly flailing his arms to reach out and hit the Beneficiaries.
8. Eventually a family-friend and ex-student pulled him away from the crowd and guided him towards the trust office door. At this point, Dr. Datta suddenly turned around and again rushed towards the middle of the road.
9. He charged violently towards a group of Beneficiaries who backed off from him in surprise. Dr. Datta’s nephew grabbed him by the waist and pulled him back.
10. All this while the company of policemen had been hovering around Dr. Datta, ensuring that he did not hurt anyone. They now moved in and held him by the shoulders to dissuade him from using violence. Dr. Datta’s family-friend asked the policeman to let go of Dr. Datta. He then grabbed Dr. Datta and pulled him back to the trust office door.
11. Dr. Datta entered half-way, and then turned around in one last attempt to rush at the Beneficiaries. Matriprasad blocked his way and bodily forced him into the trust office and slammed the door behind them.
12. Dr. Datta’s daughter stood before the door. In the video footage she is seen shouting abuses and making threatening and intimidating gestures at the Beneficiaries and then walking off.
13. Subsequently other assistants of the trustees entered the trust office without any incident.
14. All of the above is verifiable from the video recordings made from several angles by the Beneficiaries nearby. In view of his violent and dangerously intimidating actions, Dr Datta would normally be liable for criminal action. In order to pre-empt such action and in panic, the trust board was advised by their lawyers to spread false stories claiming that Dr. Datta was “attacked by a mob”. This is, in fact, the exact opposite of what really happened.
15. Dr. Datta could not have been attacked by any “mob” because at least a dozen policemen were present throughout. In the video footage no policeman is ever seen touching any Beneficiaries. But they are seen restraining Dr. Datta.
16. On advice of his lawyers, Dr. Datta then filed an FIR (First Information Report) with the Police claiming that some unidentified persons attacked him. Subsequently he filed a list of names with photos of individuals who had been sitting at the Silent Protest. None of these persons are seen anywhere near Dr. Datta during his violent outbursts.
17. The same evening, the trust arranged for their representatives to spread their false narrative on the Internet beginning with a posting on the SAICE forum. The false narrative was signed by “Ajit, Arindam, Bulu, Gautam” none of whom were present during Dr. Datta’s violent outbursts, and who are well known to represent the trustees’ vested interests. Two of them have sought to implead themselves in a court case in order to support the trustees.
18. This false narrative was repeated by Prapanna on Auroconf on the 28th. Then on 29th a further politicised and provocative version was circulated by “David Hutchinson, Rich Carlson, Debashish Banerji, Savitra, Prapanna Smith” none of whom were present, and all of whom have earlier exposed their vested interests in protecting Heehs’ abuse of Sri Aurobindo. Their note referred to the Silent Protest as “a political demonstration staged by Sraddhalu Ranade”.
19. In all these false narratives, Sraddhalu Ranade is especially targeted and demonised on the basis of what are entirely concocted stories.
20. A day later, the Working Committee of Auroville wrote to Savitri Bhavan demanding cessation of Ranade’s talks on the basis of these false charges, and Prapanna reported that SAIIER had withdrawn Ranade’s book that they had published four years ago.
21. This obsessive focus on and smear campaign against Ranade is revealing, and exposes the vested personal interests involved and the nexus of the propagandists.
22. The drama and haste of these organised misinformation campaigns exposes the desperation of the trustees and their representatives.
It is strange that when Sri Aurobindo is abused we are advised by the trustees and these propagandists to sit back and pray in silence. But when the trustees are criticised, they direct all their energies and financial power to defend themselves and to victimise their critics!
This in itself should illustrate the trustees’ double standards and their perverse intent with regard to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
We would like to bring to the notice of the above-mentioned propagandists that, by promoting these baseless and false narratives, they are exposing themselves to charges of defamation, and that we reserve the right to take suitable legal redress if they do not cease their defamatory propaganda immediately.