JALANDHAR, Punjab—Controversy over the death of self-styled godman and head of Noormehal based cult (Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan) Mahesh Kumar Jha alias Ashutosh has deepened. His son Dalip Jha (41) along with his family members have started indefinite fast at their native village Lakhnaur situated in Darbhanga district of Bihar to demand that Ashutosh’s body be handed over to his family for the last rites.
Speaking to media persons, Dalip Jha said that he first heard about his dad passing away from different newspapers and TV Channels. Dalip has urged the Deputy commissioner of Darbhanga District and the local police to help them perform last rites of Ashutosh. He further warned that if Bihar administration does not coordinate, the Jha family would move Punjab and Haryana High Court soon.
Dalip Jha has said that he has given a formal application to Deputy Commissioner Lokesh Kumar requesting help. “I have mentioned in the application that the district administration should intervene and help the family in getting the body so that it can be cremated without delay.”
When he was asked whether he would visit Noormahal, he said, “We are scared to visit Noormehal as dera followers are very influential. Hence, the family members and villagers are staging a dharna at Lakhnaur. We will break our fast only after the body is handed to the family.” Dalip Jha said that he and his family members would meet Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday.
Dera representatives have denied all the claims being made by Ashutosh’s family, and reiterated that “Ashutosh has no family and he is a Sanyasi.” They said, “Where was the family for the past three decades?”
Challenging Dera’s claims that Ashutosh has no family, Dalip Jha said, “My father left home in 1973 when I had just taken birth. After that I have met him on few occasions, but my telephonic conversations with him have been held on numerous occasions. Last time, I spoke with father in December, 2013 for half an hour. In a meeting held between us at Delhi in a congregation, he gave me Rs. 2 lakhs in cash to help promote my business. My mother Anandi Devi (70) is sad over the fake stories about his father being spread by the cult.”
Dalip’s brother-in-law Mohan Jha leveled charges that Ashutosh has not died a natural death but has been murdered at the Dera.
Mohan said that he was going to lodge a formal complaint at Lakhnaur police station for the registration of an FIR under Section 302 of the IPC. He said, “The way the entire issue has unfolded indicates that there has been foul play. I am sure that Ashutosh has been murdered at the dera. A case should be registered so that a proper investigation is conducted and the guilty get punished.”
On other side, Ashutosh’s elder brother Bhawedar Jha, former vice chancellor of Lal Bahadur Shastari Vidyapeeth, has also sought that the dead body be handed over to his family.