Mumbai – Bangalore Iskcon factions come to blows
HERALD BANGALORE, INDIA – June 03, 2011
Tension gripped the usually serene Iskcon temple complex on West of Chord Road on Friday.
Police were out in large numbers following reports that an ISKCON team from Mumbai would attempt to take control of the premises after the Karnataka High Court rejected the Bangalore temple authorities’ claim of ownership.
Traffic was also thrown out of gear and the usual large number of devotees who visit the temple watched in dismay as men wearing white kurtas and dhotis and sporting ‘shikhas’ (small tuft of hair on clean shaven heads) came to blows in an unseemly duel to take control of the property worth crores at today’s market value.
There were arguments and counter-arguments between the two factions in the presence of the police. Someone even pulled the dhoti of Varadakrishna dasa, a member of an ISKCON team from Mumbai team.
Foiled in their attempt to enter the temple, the Mumbai team left, declaring its intent to take legal recourse to gain control of the property. Apparently, the Mumbai team wanted to surprise the Bangalore ISKCON authorities as it landed without prior information in four cars.
Anticipating the Mumbai ISKCON move, several Bangalore ISKCON members were guarding the temple compound. Even as the six members alighted from their cars and started walking towards the gate, the Bangalore group blocked their way.
Supervisory committee member from Mumbai Varadakrishna dasa alleged before the media that Madhu Pandith dasa of the Bangalore temple was a real estate agent and that he had deployed ‘goons’ to prevent the committee members’ entry. Madhu Pandit dasa feared that his corrupt practices would come to light if the committee members began scrutinising the accounts, Varadakrishna dasa alleged.
Madhu Pandit dasa told reporters later that the very constitution of the supervisory committee was unconstitutional as he was planning to challenge the High Court verdict in the Supreme Court.
“The High Court has given us six weeks’ time. They want to realise two objectives by entering the temple. First, they want to distract my attention from the main task of appealing before the Supreme Court. Second, there are vouchers of the past 10 years pertaining to nearly Rs 100 crore. They plan to do something with the vouchers to defame me,” he said.
“They are attacking me as I started a rebellion within the movement against the American Guru system. They tried to enter the temple even without holding the HC order. Our petition is listed for hearing on Monday,” Pandith dasa added.
Traffic on West of Chord Road in front of the temple was disrupted for over 30 minutes.