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Why expect anything against babas when they have been legitimised by the party in power?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

The death of over 130 devotees in a stampede at a congregation at Hathras in Uttar Pradesh has shocked the nation, but why does it surprises us? In the last three decades, this country has seen enormous growth of babas as devotees throng to them in search of miraculous powers. 
The codification of religion and development of organised cadres in these congregations has been the biggest threat to society and democracy, but  these religious gurus now have been legitimised by the party in power and vice versa. 
They have enormous power, and action against them is taken against their misdeeds only when the state feels they have become  a political liability, or when  the courts are determined to act against them.
The sad part today is the glorification of these babas through darbari and social media which have helped create a 'bright halo' around them to ensure that they run their fiefdom uninterruptedly. Today, they seek to define your personality. When everything is reduced to the number of your followers and likes, then why expect any rational debate on reasons for allowing such congregations it they can't be managed properly?
The government has initiated an inquiry but we all know what will be its outcome. A few scapegoats would be found, while nothing would happen to the main culprit. 
There is a close nexus between media, politicians and these babas who are not really spiritual but only working as political agents. The administration knows these things hence in any event the issue of permission and required paper work is merely a formality. 
The shameful part is that the so-called baba of the Hathras congregation just disappeared from the scene, and so far not a single statement has been heard about him. But as a society we never learn any lesson. We have easily forgotten how, a decade back,  a billionaire baba wore a woman's kurta with dupatta and ran away from Ramleela Maidan in Delhi. 
The growth of organised religious congregation and using them for political purposes is not merely a law and order problem but also a big threat to democracy. Don't we know how the number of deras have grown in Punjab and how difficult it is for the administration to act when they have the political patronage? The case of Gurmeet Ram Rahim of Dera Sachcha Sauda is an example of such powerful patronage.
Regrettably, it is clear that, as a society, we will continue to look for messiahs, with each one of us suffering from their grip. The result is, we don't have time to interact and debate decently in order to gain wisdom and knowledge. 
Why should we complain when such a situation has been normalised and most of us are writing in abstract in our own world looking for 'bhakts', and not for  fellow partners with whon one can discuss and debate politely and with respect?
The thing is, nobody will learn anything, because after a few noises here and there, things will move on and the babas will give us gyan about our life and future on what to eat, how to live and what is our future. The problem is that despite the known fact that they don't know anything about life, we continue to follow them in search of a miracle. 
Meanwhile, we can only moan the death of innocent people in the hope that people will realise that they are just cannon fodder, and there is no miracle or power in these babas or priests, otherwise we would not have any accidents and deaths in and around religious places or these congregation. 
We need an enlightened people and that it is possible to follow and understand the path shown by Buddha, Nanaka, Kabir, Raidas, Tukaram, Chokhamela and so on, not these the luxurious babas. The sooner we get out of this the better for society.
*Human rights defender



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