Source : AhmedabadMirror
Stalls number 137 and 138 at Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s book fair have been raising quite a few brows. For, the two stalls, merged into one, have on display literature related to self-styled godman Asaram who has been convicted of rape and is serving life term in Jodhpur jail. Several visitors have objected to the permission granted for such a stall. Even publishers feel such a stall would disturb the mood of the fair. AMC authorities blame it on the online system of booking stalls and claim they were not aware of such a stall. Ironically, the stall, named after Asaram, also has his lifesize posters.
The annual book fair opened on November 24. Himanshu Mishra, a college student who visited the fair, said, “I could see huge posters of Asaram and satsang being telecast on television. I don’t have problem against any good literature but Asaram’s photographs are definitely an objection as everyone knows what he did.”
The stall had more than 250 titles on Asaram literature in Gujarati and Hindi. His followers were seen explaining the literature to visitors. Not just this, his talks were constantly playing on a TV screen.
Defending Asaram, another visitor, Kaushik Patel, said, “I don’t have any problem with this stall. Why should he not be given an opportunity to prove himself innocent? He got in trouble due to media trial.”
Publisher Drashti Patel who has a stall at the fair, said, “People who handle the enrollment and booking should know that such a stall is being set up. It is my personal view that since he is a convict and not an accused, the stall should not be allowed. There has to be some scrutiny of the applications. AMC officials would have noticed that there are huge posters of him visible to people.”
Krishnakant Madrasi, president of Gujarat Prakashak Mandal, said, “The public knows about him. It is possible that AMC might have missed the fact that a stall related to Asaram is coming up. But if he is convicted of rape, the stall should not be allowed.”
When Mirror talked to AMC officials, they said the mistake might have occurred due to the online system as the application does not suggest any connection with Asaram.
Stall manager Rakesh Yadav said, “We have made payment in the name of Satsahitya Seva Kendra and the stall is called Sant Shree Asaram Satsahitya Mandir. I don’t think anyone has problem with our stall and Asaram Bapu. If anyone had a problem, they would have removed us from the fair.”
He added, “Had Bapu really been a convict, the public would not have allowed us to stay here. He has been convicted because of a conspiracy. How can and 80-year-old person do this (rape)? We have sold and distributed around 4,000 books and 1,000 calendars in two days.”
“I think there was no mention of Asaram in the online application. It is tough to scrutinise whether a stall related to him is coming up. We will look into the matter.”
Mukesh Gadhvi, DyMC, AMC