Jan 15, 2018

Delhi: Young girls retained in cages, sexually abused by godman

The Delhi ashram that was raided had deplorable living conditions, with small cage-like rooms and the girls were constantly kept under CCTV surveillance. (Representational Image)
January 14, 2018

Virender Dev Dixit perpetrated he is God and demanded donations to stop the world from ending in 2020.

The Delhi ashram that was raided had deplorable living conditions, with small cage-like rooms and the girls were constantly kept under CCTV surveillance. (Representational Image)

New Delhi: In the month since the raids on self proclaimed godman Virender Dev Dixit has started, letters of plea from distraught parents have started piling up on lawyer Shalabh Gupta's desk.

Gupta represents Foundation for Social Empowerment, the NGO which first filed the FIR against the self-proclaimed godman.

"I don't know where my daughter has been kept, in what condition, I have not been allowed to meet her. I have come to know there is some ganda kaam (dirty things) happening in the ashram," reads one letter, according to a report in Times of India.

"When we met our daughter, she said she was happy and wanted to stay in the ashram. But she looked weak and scared. I think she is being pressurised to give such statements. I beg you to bring my daughter back,'' reads another.

Dixit's victims were mostly Brahma Kumari followers, a sect that he was linked to in earlier days, but later fell out with.

He had a network of "matas" and "bhais," who regularly held satsangs or Gita path in lower middle class neighbourhoods in UP and Rajasthan.

Through these networks, Dixit perpetrated the idea that Brahma Kumari founder Lekhraj Kripalani's soul had transferred into him, after which he would hold a seven-day meditation and sermon camp.

They came back from the camp thinking that Dixit was none other than God himself, as confirmed by K Garg, an assitant sub-inspector of police and a former follower of the sect himself.

There was a set of rules for the followers, confirms another follower. Sex, extravagant food, social functions---were all forbidden.

Garg, whose 16-year-old daughter was sent to the ashram after Dixit "asked" for her, also says that over time, they were also indoctrinated to happily part with money, property and their daughters.

"We thought what could be better for a girl than to immerse herself in spirituality,'' Garg says, whose daughter was taken to an ashram in Kampil, a small town UP, in 2003, "after 2004-2005, we did not see her though we would go to the ashram every week for meditation. We only spoke to her twice on the phone.

Despite being with the police himself, the lack of contact with his daughter did not strike Garg as strange or out of the way. His daughter is still missing and an FIR has been registered in the case.
Dixit's mode of operation was quite simple. He perpetrated he is God, the world would come to an end in 2020 and to prevent that, followers should make "sacrifices" in the form of donations.

According to the Times of India report, Banda's Savita, who alleges she was raped by Dixit while being a sevadar (servant) at his ashram, sold off 10 bighas and donated Rs 10 lakh. Not only that, she even surrendered her daughter to Dixit's ashram in 2007. Savita escaped with her daughter in 2015 on the pretext of bringing in more followers.
"Hum dhoondh rahe the bhagwaan, aur woh nikla shaitan (We went searching for God, we found the devil),'' says the disillusioned Savita.

Dixit lured young girls into his trap by feeding the opium of spiritual education to the parents. Some of these girls were as young as 14.

He first shifted them away from their homes, so they could not ask help from their parents.
The Delhi ashram that was raided had deplorable living conditions, with small cage-like rooms and the girls were constantly kept under CCTV surveillance.

Parents were allowed to meet their daughters only in the company of others and after a wait of hours.

One family, Times of India reports, moved to Delhi from Telengana in the hope that this might increase the frequency of the meetings, but managed to see her only two to three times over a span of two years.

The secret goings-on in the ashram were first brought into attention when a family from Rajasthan's Jhunjhunu insisted that they be allowed to meet their daughter.

They contacted the Foundation for Social Empowerment for assistance, who put them through to a PCR.

A subsequent raid on December 19, 2017 revealed that 50 other women were held inside the Rohini Ashram.

The ashram functioned on a properly maintained hierarchy. Older men and women were given sevadar duty and formed the outer cordon.

The 'behens' and 'matas' were kept behind locked doors and were allowed no contact with the sevadars.

Savita, the woman from Banda, said that her daughter was one of the behens. These girls were woken up at 2-2:30 am and forced to listen to Dixit's sermons blaring from TV sets. They were encouraged to stare at the image for a couple of hours and meditate, following which they would bathe and get ready around to 4 am.

They would spend their days listening to sermons. Threats that a curse would befall the parents of the girls who disobeyed, were mixed in these sermons.

If Dixit came to the ashram, 8-10 would be selected for the night for 'gupt prasad', which according to Garg and Savita was a code for sex.

Savita narrated that those who got the 'gupt prasad,' were called ranis and Dixit was their Krishna, who could also have 16,108 ranis.

The ashram also kept track of the menstrual cycles of the women.

Complains of ill-treatment and sexual abuse signed by female inmates were found among the papers seized from the ashram, along with a visitors' register that had only male names.
The reason for their visit to the ashram was ambiguous.


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