Both factions read the judgment as being in their favour

The Supreme Court on Monday directed both the warring factions of ISKCON (Bangalore and Mumbai) to maintain status quo till the next hearing.

The groups have been in conflict over the ownership of Bangalore ISKCON.

Both the factions interpreted the Supreme Court direction as being in their favour. ISKCON Bangalore devotees termed it as a victory and celebrated by organising a grand “kirtan”.

“The Supreme Court has restrained ISKCON Mumbai Society from interfering with the day-to-day management of ISKCON Bangalore. It has also said that [our] office-bearers should continue with the day-to-day affairs. The supervisory committee of ISKCON Mumbai has been restrained from interfering or barging into the temple,” said Chanchalapathi Dasa, vice-president, ISKCON Bangalore.

This meant that the Bangalore society's case had been admitted and leave granted, he added.

The other claim

On the other hand, Varadakrishna Das, president of ISKCON Mumbai Society, said here in Bangalore that the court order had “vindicated the Mumbai society's stand that Bangalore branch's president Madhu Pandit Dasa and Chanchalapathi Dasa have been refrained from functioning as members of the locally registered society. They can only function as office-bearers of ISKCON Mumbai's branch in Bangalore.”

The Mumbai group had never sought to interfere in the day-to-day management of the Bangalore branch. “The role of the supervisory committee, in the wake of the Karnataka High Court order, is to probe into cash handling, banking transactions, scandals of deity worship and other such activities of the Bangalore branch, ‘whose property is being usurped by Madhu Pandit Dasa and his family'.” He said that ISKCON Bangalore had appealed to the Supreme Court to stay the functioning of the supervisory committee. “But that has not been stayed. This means there is no legal hurdle for the committee to function,” he added.

Temple turns fortress

Meanwhile, the ISKCON temple here, which is a major tourist attraction, looked like a fortress with police patrolling outside the temple and an extra-vigilant private security (hired by the temple) within the premises.

“Please lower your glass windows,” said a placard held by a security man near the main gate. The personnel, braving the heavy rain that lashed the city on Monday evening, checked every vehicle and frisked devotees before letting them inside the temple.

Volunteers' vigil

Worried that members of the Mumbai group may make yet another takeover attempt, volunteers from ISKCON Bangalore set up four watchtowers on the hill, manning the front portion of the temple, holding umbrellas even as they maintained their vigil in the downpour. Sandbags have been stocked up near the entrance and the watchtowers and the compound wall wrapped in rolls of barbed wire.

Chanchalapathi Dasa said the extra security was because the Mumbai group had announced in the media that it would again try to barge into the premises.

The city police have imposed Section 144 under the Cr.PC in the area. At least five police vehicles with policemen have been deployed near the temple.

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