Tuesday, 6 November 2001

History in the Making - Five Accused-Trustees Appear Before JM I, Pondicherry

Such a sight as was never seen before happened on the fateful day of 05.11.2001. In the criminal case filed by Hemlata in S.T.R. No.864/2001, the accused trustees and other accused inmates were compelled to appear before the Judicial Magistrate I at Pondicherry. Here is what happened on that day.

Five accused trustees – Harikant Patel, Veda Prakash Johar, Dilip Datta, Manoj Das Gupta and Albert Patel @ Avinash – were represented by a hoard of lawyers. The three accused inmates – Krishna Belliappa, Manjunath and Satyanarayanamurthy – were represented by another set of lawyers.

On 05.11.2001 Harikant Patel and Veda Prakash Johar, for the sake of gaining court’s sympathy, were brought by five inmates each in wheelchair. One of the chair-bearers was Lalit Varma of Aurodhan Art Gallery, who equals four men in size, accompanied Veda Prakash Johar, his uncle. The trustees were accompanied by chosen henchmen viz. Matriprasad, Prushottam Iyyengar, Prafulla Patel, Saumya Bableshwar, Nirmal Chandra Swain, to name a few. So, there were about 23-25 inmates/henchmen of the trustees present on this auspicious day of hearing. Now add to this another 10-15 lawyers, clerks and well-wishers, all serving the trustees and their henchmen. So about 40-45 people were present on the accused trustees’ side.

On my side my lawyer, Mr. Cyril Vincent, Jayashree and myself were present.

The criminal case was generally called at the end to decrease humiliation caused to the trustees. This day was no exception. Before the case was called the court had been emptied to accommodate this huge group. So imagine the scene when we all appeared! Trustees and their coterie of about 40-45 people on one side, only three people - Mr. Cyril Vincent, Jayashree and myself – on the other side. Since the court hall was small it was a fascinating sight.

When the proceedings began C.S. Narasimhan opened his statement by saying this girl (indicating me) is harassing and intimidating us (pointing to the trustees). Mr. Vincent simply shrugged his shoulder and the judge burst out laughing. Mr. Narasimhan went red in the face and abstained from making such blunt allegations. But the hilarity of the situation totally escaped the trustees! 

Tuesday, 15 May 2001

Victimization Due to Criminal Case

Notices were issued to the accused trustees and the three accused inmates in the defamation case filed by Hemlata in S.T.R. No.864/2001 at Pondicherry. The trustees were simply furious becoming vindictive and revengeful. My sisters and even my parents were not spared. Some highlights of harassment. 
  1. Arunashri taught painting classes for adults. Her classes were stopped by Ashok Acharya acting on the instructions of Shobha Mitra.
  2. Arunashri’s library facility at Ashram School was stopped through Asmita Shah (maiden name) by Manoj Das Gupta, the Registrar of Ashram School and the Managing Trustee of Ashram.
  3. Parents’ work which they offered voluntarily at the Ashram was stopped.
  4. Parents’ food which they partook on payment basis from Ashram Dining Room was stopped.
  5. Parents were repeatedly threatened by henchmen of the trustees to withdraw the criminal case if they wanted to live in peace at Pondicherry.

Sunday, 15 April 2001

Hemlata Files Criminal Case For Defamation

Trustees Letter dated 22.03.2001 to Hemlata read ‘Strictly Personal and Confidential’ but no confidentiality had been maintained by them. The trustees had widely circulated this defamatory letter to inmates, locals, police and even made open representation in the court without producing any evidence for my alleged pregnancy. So after issuing Legal Notices to the trustees and one Krishna Belliappa who was supposed to have made me pregnant, as claimed by the trustees, on 03.04.2001, to safeguard our interests, I was constrained to file a defamation case against the Ashram trustees viz. Harikant Patel, Veda Prakash Johar, Dilip Datta, Manoj Das Gupta and Albert Patel @ Avinash together with three inmates viz. Krishna Belliappa, Manjunath, Satyanarayanamurthy.

Even before notice could reach the accused persons, the trustees had come to know about my criminal case and they proceeded to harass and victimize my other sisters. My four elder sisters were issued a malafide show cause notice for an incident which never occurred accusing them of ‘misbehavior and defiance’. This notice contained the punishment without having first ascertained the veracity of the alleged incident.

Immediately after issuing this malafide notice Nivedita’s work was illegally stopped by Chitra Sen at Tresor Nursing Home and no reason was given. Seeing the trustees highhandedness my four elder sisters filed a civil suit challenging the show cause notice back-dated to 02.04.2001 in O.S. No.253/2001 before the Hon’ble I Additional District Munsif at Pondicherry on 09.04.2001, seeking to restrain the trustees from their unjustified illegal actions.

Interestingly on 07.04.2001, the day Nivedita’s work was illegally terminated, trustees issued a reply notice to the legal notice issued by me for causing defamation, based on some undisclosed medical records of Hemlata available at the Tresor Nursing Home. Thereafter the contents of this notice were presented as counter in the interim injunction application filed in I.A. No.814/2001 in O.S. No.215/2001.

The story of allegation of misconduct by Hemlata was subtly changed from trustees’ defamatory letter dated 22.03.2001 to their reply notice dated 07.04.2001 and their counter filed in I.A. No.814/2001. The subtleties made all the difference and clearly indicated that the whole bunch of allegations was a concocted affair by the trustees, hand-in-glove with Chitra Sen, to deny and deprive us justice for Jayashree’s assault.

Friday, 30 March 2001

Civil Suit in O.S. No.215/2001

On 21.03.2001 Gangaram issued to me a chit as the Deputy Director of Physical Education Department of Ashram (P.E.D.) stopping all my sports activities at P.E.D. premises. The chit simply stated that my name had been removed from ‘Prosperity List’ of the Ashram. ‘Prosperity List’ is a list of all the inmates who are being taken care of in every way by the Ashram and are completely dependent on the Ashram for their survival, therefore this chit was in effect an illegal order of expulsion. So, on 23.03.2001, based on this chit I filed a civil suit for permanent injunction on 23.03.2001 in the morning in O.S. No.215/2001 before the Hon’ble I Additional Munsif at Pondicherry.

Later in the day around 4 pm I received a defamatory letter through registered post (RPAD) dated 22.03.2001 from the trustees making wildly false allegations against my character. This letter falsely accused me of being 6-7 months pregnant through one Krishna Belliappa and which I illegally terminated.

Even though this letter read ‘Strictly Personal and Confidential’ it had been widely circulated by the trustees through their henchmen.
  1. On 23.03.2001 morning, even before I received this letter, Manjunath was flaunting it on my face when we were denied breakfast.
  2. On 23.03.2001, in the morning when I went to give my complaint to the police Mr. Anand Mohan asked me about veracity of this letter. In fact he mistook Jayashree to be me.
  3. Later on 24.03.2001 when Manjunath was called to the police station there also he showed to the police this letter.
  4. This defamatory letter was so widely circulated that even other ashramites and locals came up to me to ask me about this letter.

This mischief was played out by the trustees in order to discredit us thereby suppressing the incident of Jayashree’s assault.

On 28.03.2001 trustees entered appearance through one C.S. Narasimham, whose son had been a student of Ashram School. C.S. Narasimham represented the contents of the letter dated 22.03.2001 and the Hon’ble Judge Mr. Nallathamby was so shocked that he shouted from his seat at C.S. Narasimhan. He firmly told Mr. Narasimhan to produce evidence before making allegations of such serious nature. Mr. Narasimhan took time to file trustees counter and left shamefaced from the court.

On 30.03.2001 trustees gave an undertaking that Hemlata’s food and shelter will not be disturbed but they failed to file their counter and even to produce any evidence to support their false allegations.

Saturday, 24 March 2001

Trustees Deny Breakfast to Five Sisters

After Jayashree was assaulted on 09.01.2001, a group comprising of Nirmal Swain, Girish Panda, Santosh Nayak, Krishna Chandra, to name a few goondas of the trustees, had threatened the trustees that if any action was taken against Krishna Chandra, the whole oriya group would do a mass walk out of Dining Room. Since Ashram Dining Room functions mainly on the strength of the oriyas, the trustees were forced to shut up and tried to suppress the assault on Jayashree. In fact the trustees realizing the potential for future use of this group, readily rewarded Krishna Chandra by facilitating his stay in the Ashram.

But we persisted in my demand for justice to all the trustees, most especially Dilip Datta. In order to stop Hemlata and cover up their inaction the trustees began threatening and harassing me. I was punished and was forced to carry food in tiffin carrier if I wanted to eat. For three weeks I suffered in silence then decided to resume my food at Ashram Dining Room defying the unjust punishment imposed upon me. I first wrote letters to all the concerned trustees informing them of my intention. Then on 22.03.2001 I had my lunch and my dinner at the Ashram Dining Room. However when on 23.03.2001 I went with my four elder sisters to partake breakfast at the Ashram Dining Room at about 7.30 a.m.

All the sisters are denied breakfast. I was manhandled by inmates Manjunath and Satyanarayanamurthy. I gave a written complaint to the police for denial of food, for assault on Jayashree and my manhandling. On 24.03.2001 police called the above named inmates to police station and after questioning them, police issued a Report in Non-Cognizable Offence against my complaint and made wrong entries. Police also mentioned that it was a civil offence and matters should be sorted out with the trustees.

Which law-book states that cases of assault and manhandling and denial of food are civil offences? A new law-book probably as yet unheard of…

Tuesday, 9 January 2001

Jayashree Prasad Brutally Assaulted in Ashram Dining Room

Jayashree Prasad, my eldest sister, was brutally assaulted in the Ashram Dining Room at around 6.15 a.m. by one Krishna Chandra of Orissa, in front of Veda Prakash Johar, a trustee of Ashram Trust and the in-charge of Ashram Dining Room and in-front of Sharada-ben, who is the deputy in-charge. Krishna Chandra is a voluntary worker and a protégé of Veda Prakash Johar.

The said Krishna Chandra had been accosting Jayashree for some time soliciting sexual favors and she had been repeatedly thwarting his advances. She had even complained to Veda P. Johar and Harikant Patel, the Managing Trustee of Ashram, both of whom had told her that these things happen in the Ashram and one should not pay attention to them. Krishna Chandra had already got bad record of spoiling the lives of certain girls from the village wherefrom he came, so we were given to understand.

Finally on this day Krishna Chandra opened his shorts in front of her and when Jayashree tried to push past him to reach some safety, she was brutally beaten up. His supporters Girish Panda and Santosh Nayak were also present during the assault and they were silently encouraging him. When she was on the point of near collapse due to the trauma of assault, Girish, who also hails from Orissa, mockingly told Krishna Chandra in oriya to the effect that leave her for today.

Jayashree was aghast and completely broken as she confronted Veda Prakash Johar and told him that if you think what has happened here today in your presence is right then call me back for work and she somehow managed to reach parents house and collapsed.

We other sisters were informed and immediately we rushed to her side. We first went to meet Veda Prakash Johar who was trembling on seeing us. He outright denied his presence, which was most unworthy of his position as trustee and in-charge, while Sharda-ben confirmed his presence during the assault.

Then we went to meet Dilip Kumar Datta, who is another trustee of Ashram Trust and also the overall medical in-charge of Ashram medical facilities. Dilip Datta is also looking into all the legal matters of the Ashram. He did not treat Jayashree but he exclaimed that it is a serious police criminal case, it should not happen even at home, how can it happen in the Ashram?! But he requested us not to go to the police when we asked him if we could lodge a complaint at the police station. He assured us that justice would be given and action taken but since it will create a bad name for the Ashram, it would be better if sorted out in-house.

There is a rule in the Ashram that inmates cannot approach the police before obtaining prior permission from the trustees and since Dilip Datta had denied us permission, we could not approach the police for help.