The recent fact-finding by Sampurna, a social welfare organisation, has revealed that in spite of series of raids conducted by Delhi Commission of Women (DCW) in December 2017, more than 200 girls are living in Delhi’s Adhyatamik Vidyalaya ashram. The ashram, owned by self- styled Godman Virender Dixit, has been accused of illegally confining girls and women. Despite these allegations, no concrete action has been taken against Dixit.
We would like to bring your attention to a case registered with us on September 27, 2018. The case was registered by the parents and relatives of a 24-year-old girl from Jind (Haryana) who went missing on September 25, the day of her elder sister’s engagement. She ran away from her house and is currently staying in Adhyatamik Vishwavidyalya in Vijay Vihar, Sector- 5, Rohini. The girl took all her degrees and documents and came to the centre owned by Virender Dev Dixit. On two occasion her parents and our team met her and asked her to return. However, she refused to return.
When our team visited the centre, they drew the following conclusions:
- Before visiting the Ashram, our counsellor called the SHO of Vijay Vihar Police station to depute a constable for their visit to the Ashram, but he explicitly denied any help.
- The ashram had “prison-like surroundings.”
- The ‘didis’(women helpers) who acclaimed themselves to be ‘spiritual teachers’ were constantly hovering the team members of Sampurna as well as the representatives of Mahila Aayog. As a result, the representatives couldn’t meet the girl almost after an hour of waiting in the Ashram. The women in white and pink saree (‘didis’) constantly disturbed the team members by their presence during the counselling session.
- According to the counsellor, the girl wasn’t in her conscious and was under the influence of the ashram. After counselling her for one and a half hour, the counsellor observed that she was verbatimly restating the texts of dharmic books and was giving almost the same answer to all the questions. For eg: “Duniya ek mela hai. Aur main is mele mein apne aapko khona nahi chahti. Main apni aatma ki shuddhi ke liye yahan rahungi. Mere ma baap ki aatma pareshan hai, aur wo bhi apni aatma ki shuddhi ke liye ek din yahin aayenge. (The world is an illusion. I have come to purify my soul and will stay here. One day my parents will also come here to purify their soul.)”
- She was not giving direct answers to the questions asked by the counsellor. She came across delusional. She also couldn’t provide a proper reply to her daily routine in that Ashram.
- Foundation of Social Empowerment NGO filed a PIL against Virender Dixit’s Ashram in Rohini.
- Raid was conducted by Delhi Police and DCW in the Adhyatamik Vishwavidyalya owned by Virender Dixit in Sector- 5, Rohini on December 19, 2017. Around 48 girls were rescued from the Aashram.
- The case was immediately handed over to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on December 20, 2017.
CBI registered three cases against Virender Dixit’s ashram. The two cases are against Dixit for alleged rape and criminal intimidation, while one is against unidentified people for allegedly obstructing the work of a high court-appointed committee which went to the Ashram on December 19, 2017.
- A two-judge bench of Delhi High Court comprising of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar heard the case. The court observed that the Ashram is not a ‘vishwavidyalya,’ i.e. a university as defined under the University Grants Commission Act and therefore it cannot continue to represent itself as one.
- Till today, the board of the building says “AdhyatamikVidyalya (with a temporary logo on the word ‘Vishwa’) and ADHYATMIKUNIVERSITY.COM with no such website functional in place. (Please see the picture below).
- CBI could not trace self- styled preacher Virender Dev Dixit till today. He is still absconding.
- Despite serious allegations against the ashram, raids, and CBI investigations, more than 200 girls and women are staying in that building behind metal doors in a five-storeyed building leading to serious human rights violations.
- High Court also directed that the Aashram should not keep the women and girls locked up in the building or cages. But after the visit by the team members of Sampurna and counselling the girl it was found that girls and women are not allowed to step out of that building. They are still confined in the ‘fortress-like’ building surrounded by a barbed wire fence.
- Pamphlets and brochures are distributed in the Aashram to all the devotees abusing media and newspapers. Please find enclosed.
When our team enquired from the ‘didis’, they told us that more than 200 girls and women are living in that Ashram. This came to us as a surprise that despite the raid conducted by DCW in December 2017, there are so many women/ girls still living in the Ashram. His Ashram was referred to as the “Ashram of horror” by the media and the case was transferred to the CBI for further investigation. Virender Dixit allegedly have four FIRs registered at Rohini’s Vijay Vihar police station and four rape cases registered against him in Farrukabad.
There is clear violation of human rights by confining girls and women devotees in a huge building and debarring their movement to the outside world. Despite serious allegations, strong evidences, the Ashram is still functional in a full swing. This case clearly reinstate that new girls/ women are sacked by the Ashram till date. We would like to raise the question that why the Ashram is not seized till today? We would like to demand that DCW, Delhi Police, CBI and other functionaries that:
- The minors should be immediately rescued from the Aashram.
- Their movement in the public space outside the spiritual building is ensured.
- Regular inspection of the Aashrammust be ensured by regular visits by the NGOs and representatives of DCW.
- Criminal justice system should atleast ensure that no new girl/ women should be admit in the Ashram till the final judgement comes out.
What kind of spirituality are we seeking by allowing such Aashrams confining girls and women? How are we contesting the debate of consent and free spirit when hundreds of girls and women are barred inside four walls and not allowed to step outside? We would like to request the judiciary and entire criminal justice system to d the needful justice to the women, girls and their families who are confined in the four walls of Dixit Aashram. We hope that you will take the lead in stemming the rot and reassure everyone, especially the women that they need not fear for their dignity and safety in Delhi.