Maharashtra: Protesting followers of Osho Rajneesh forcibly enter his Pune ashram

Police said that on Wednesday afternoon, more than 250 protesters forced their way into the Osho International Meditation Centre (OIMC)
Last Updated : 22 March 2023, 17:31 IST

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More than 200 followers of the late spiritual guru Osho Rajneesh wearing 'sanyas mala' (rosaries) on Wednesday forced their way into the Osho Ashram here in protest against the management's reported plans to sell some of the Ashram land.

Tensions had been brewing between a group of Osho followers and the OSHO International Foundation (OIF) management which manages the Ashram in Koregaon area here since Tuesday.

Police said that on Wednesday afternoon, more than 250 protesters forced their way into the Osho International Meditation Centre (OIMC).

A day earlier, the Ashram management had allowed protesting Osho followers wearing the contentious `sanyas mala' to enter the premises to avoid a law and order situation. As per the Ashram's rules, the wearing of the mala, which the management claims Rajneesh himself had "dropped" later in his life, is not allowed.

"After our intervention on Tuesday, the followers were allowed to enter the Ashram campus with 'malas' but today they entered forcibly. A man who was not a part of the followers' group became violent and tried to manhandle police personnel, forcing the police to use force to evict him," said Smartana Patil, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone II).

Swami Chaitanya Keerti, one of the protesters, said they had nothing to do with this man. "During the commotion, a man who is said to be an Indian-origin US citizen who has not received 'diksha' (initiation) might have said something out of aggression and was whisked away by police," he said, adding that the protesters did not know him.

Koregaon Police registered a First Information Report (FIR) against the man under section 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) of Indian Penal Code.

Another offence was registered against the protesters who entered the ashram forcibly for allegedly manhandling its manager, said senior police inspector Vinayak Vetal of Koregaon Park police station.

"We have registered an FIR under relevant IPC sections including rioting. Five to seven people are named and the remaining are unidentified," he added.

The protesting Osho disciples claimed in a press release in the evening that after entering the Ashram, they sat in the Buddha Grove area, sang kirtans (devotional songs) and did not cause any trouble.

But the ashram management "coaxed" police to use force rather than allowing entry to those wearing the Osho Mala "which was given to many of us by Osho Himself during Sannyas Initiation," it alleged.

Published 22 March 2023, 17:19 IST

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