Kerala to rein in ‘godmen’, probe their wealth

May 24th, 2008 - 9:28 pm ICT by admin  

Thiruvananthapuram, May 24 (IANS) Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan Saturday said the state government may issue an ordinance specifically to rein in the menace of self-proclaimed godmen and also launch investigations into the wealth amassed by them. “If need be, the state government will not be hesitant to come out with an ordinance to rein in people who try to commercialise religion and exploit people. We will now form a new department, economic offences wing, under the crime branch (of the state police) to look into the wealth amassed by such people,” Balakrishnan told reporters here.

Two self-styled ’swami’ (godmen) came into the police net last week at Kochi.

The first saffron-robed man to hit the headlines was Santhosh Madhavan alias Swami Amritachaithanya, arrested May 13 and charged with the rape of a teenage girl and possession of ‘ganja’ (marijuana). A tiger skin and a large number of pornographic films were also recovered from his house in Kochi.

The second godman, whose threats to shoot himself inside a police station in Aluva were beamed live on television May 17, is Himaval Maheswara Bhadranandaji, popularly known as ‘Ernakulam Swami’.

Preliminary inquires by the intelligence officials revealed that these godmen have considerable wealth without any proper records or accounts.

Meanwhile, several self-styled godmen of all religious have been under attack from political parties and activists.

On Saturday, offices of Thanku ‘Brother’, who has established an independent church - Heavenly Feast - in Kottayam district were searched by the police. The Kottayam municipal corporation has already issued a notice to his followers to demolish their temporary structure built in the heart of city.

Around half a dozen ashrams across the state have come under attack by the youth wings of both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

“This would not be allowed under any circumstances and all those who have complaints (against the swamis) should cooperate with the police and not take law into their hands,” added Balakrishnan.

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