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Plan for memorial for Anand Marga founder faces hurdles

Last updated on: November 16, 2011 17:25 IST
Keshopur, a tiny village has put Bihar's Jamalpur on the world map. Ananda Marga, a spiritual and social movement that was started in 1955, has decided to develop a memorial of its founder Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar there.

But, the project is facing hurdles. As soon as news of the memorial spread, locals from Keshopur, the birthplace of Sarkar, have started demanding exorbitant rates for land in and around the village. It was from Jamalpur that Sarkar started his spiritual journey and went on to attract thousand of devotees. 

Today, land prices have skyrocketed with locals demanding Rs 20 to Rs 25 lakh per katha (1,360 square feet). Villagers believe that Ananda Marga is ready to shell out any price to develop the memorial, especially since they have lakhs of foreign nationals as followers. Through meditation centres and service projects around the world, the organisation offers instruction in meditation, yoga and other self-development practices on a non-commercial basis.

Till a few months ago, one katha of land is Keshopur fetched not more than Rs 5 lakh.  

Sarkar, popularly known as Shri Anandamurti, died in October 1990 after which Keshopur was not much in the limelight. In fact, till 2001, a small one room, where Sarkar was born, was not even in possession of Ananda Marga.   

Rajshekharananda Avadhut, an official of Ananda Marga, said, "After the word spread in Jamalpur that a memorial of our founder along with a super specialty hospital, schools to match international standards, children's homes and other facilities were being planned, locals hiked the rate of land. Today, we have little choice but to give in to their demands if we want to build the memorial."    

A real estate developer Sanjay Singh said that property prices in the town have risen like never before. "Land prices in and around Jamalpur are giving sleepless nights to others from the area who want to invest in property. This is because Ananda Marga is looking at purchasing over 50 acres of land," he said.    

Farmers and landowners plan to sell property at even higher rates to foreign followers of the organisation, said Singh.  "Those living close to Sarkar's birthplace have refused to part with their houses and land." 

An Ananda Marg devotee, Tari Mandal, who is directly associated with the plan to develop the memorial, said that his organisation was ready to pay a little more that the actual cost of the land, but matching the demand of the locals is not affordable. 

"The locals fail to understand that if Ananda Marga is developing a memorial in Jamalpur, it will lead to an all round development of the town. Followers from across the world will pay regular visits making it into a tourist hub of sorts," he said.

"We plan to turn Jamalpur into a model town but the residents are not being helpful," he added. 

Today, Jamalpur lacks basic facilities like proper sanitation, schools, hospitals and often faces scarcity of electricity. It is known for its huge railway workshop and an institute to train railway engineers built during British Raj.

M I Khan in Patna