BHUBANESWAR: Before the dust over Sarathi Baba controversy could settle, the Trahi Achyuta Ashram on the outskirts of the Capital witnessed mob fury on Sunday evening after angry locals barged into its premises ransacking property and setting it on fire.
Hundreds of people laid siege to the ashram demanding arrest of Surendra Mishra alias Sura Baba and entered the 14-acre property where they went on a rampage. More than 10 four-wheelers and 10 bikes were set on fire, while ashram property were ransacked.
The office of the ashram and record rooms were also damaged and set ablaze by the protestors. However, there is no report of any injury in the incident as yet. At least five fire tenders from Bhubaneswar, Balianta and Balipatna were deployed to bring the fire under control.
With tension heightening, 10 platoon force was mobilised to Balakati’s Jhinti Sasan under Balipatna Police limits. Police Commissioner Dr R P Sharma was camping at the spot.
The ashram has been under scanner for alleged land grabbing since the Sarathi Baba controversy surfaced.
Though initially no formal complaint was lodged with the police, the locals __ who were dissatisfied with the ashram’s activities __ grew increasingly restless seeking action against Mishra who is accused of land grabbing and illegal activities.
On Sunday, hundreds of locals broke into the ashram premises where they faced resistance from the followers of Mishra. Soon, the followers were chased away and the protestors went berserk. Besides the property, duplex flats built on the sprawling ashram premises were also targeted by them.
Till reports last came in, a huge contingent of police was standing guard at Jhinti. Sources said a complaint has been lodged with the Balipatna Police Station against Mishra.
“We will analyse the contents of the complaint and take necessary action. The situation now is under control but we are keeping a watch,” Sharma said.
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Binayanand Jha said four platoons additional force has been despatched to assist Commissionerate Police to tackle the situation.
Earlier this month, after the Sarathi Baba episode grabbed the headlines, Balianta tehsildar had served a notice to Mishra for alleged land grabbing basing on complaints filed by a group of people but the latter did not reply. Later, his lawyer appeared and sought 15 days time which the tehsildar refused.
Tehsildar Sweta Das said an RI was sent to assess the land under possession by the ashram authorities after the complaint was lodged and it was found that about half acre of government land had been encroached.
The ashram has been operating for the last 22 years. Mishra, who had started off as a priest in the locality back then, took centrestage after announcing that he has stumbled upon a sacred manuscript of Saint Achyutananda basing on which he could foretell people’s lives and resolve their problems.
Ever since the Trahi Achyuta Ashram has been drawing followers and possessed over 14-acre land where a Trahi Achyuta Nagar was established. It has a post office and a hospital of its own.