Will you join me to campaign for a safe Vrindavan?

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By Subhangi Devi dasi

Hare Krishna. All Glories to Sri Vrindavan Dhama. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

On Feb 5th this year my daughter Ananda Lila Salter left her body in Vrindavan after being shot by a stalker who had raped and then shot her three times in the head before killing himself.

He was known to be a drunkard and also had terrorised others with this weapon before, which was not registered to him, yet nothing was done. He had harassed my daughter since she was 13 years old when she mistakenly and innocently gave him some regard. She realised what he was like and had been trying to shake his advances ever since.

He was 11 years her senior and very clever to make sure that he hid from her two brothers, her father and myself who were protecting her. He often made threats against her family and had her in a fearful state whenever he would be around. She and we knew well that we had nowhere to turn here for protection as when we had tried previously the results were disastrous.

We thought that he had been ‘gotten rid of’ of him two years ago when we had had to take her out of India for some time to stop his unwanted advances. But he just appeared again out of nowhere with tragic results.

This was not the first tragedy we have experienced in the last few years but it was certainly the most life shattering. We have been in Vrindavan for a good part of the last 20 years and we consider it as our home. Lila was the greatest lover of Vrindavan and of India in general and the culture here. She was very sweet and pious. The harsh reality is that this type of thing is going on here almost daily but since she was a foreigner, it was given a little attention (but certainly not enough).

I am totally convinced that this will continue to happen unless something is done. Vrindavan is the topmost place on this planet since it is considered as non different to the original abode of Sri Krishna in the spiritual realm. The spiritual benefit from visiting here even for a day is enormous.

But unfortunately the situation is very grim here. Instead of being a place of shanti (peace) where people can go and relish Krishna’s pastimes and the beautiful temples, Vrindavan has become a dangerous place where young thugs roam freely with weapons (usually drunk), and terrorise pilgrims, Indian and foreign alike.

The law and order is very inadequate for the amount of tourists and police corruption is absolutely rife. Those police that aren’t corrupt are themselves powerless and bullied by people who have so called connections and will have them transferred to some hellish place if they carry out the law. They also have families to protect so why would they lay their lives and their family security on the line? That is the bottom line reality here in 2008 Vrindavan, the most precious and holy place in the world……

Almost everyone I know has also got a story but most are too terrified to speak up. The foreign devotees love it here so much they never want to leave. They have abandoned their comfortable lifestyles in the West to embrace the spirituality and culture here. Having sacrificed so much, they are passionate about Vrindavan and India usually. They live in fear that they will be black listed and prevented from coming back to India if they speak against atrocities committed here. This has happened to many of them, who were faultless, so this fear is very real and keeps them very nicely in check.

The Indians can’t speak up even if they are very wealthy as they have sons who could be murdered very easily if they open their mouths or they themselves can be shot as happened recently to one Loi Bazaar shop owner who was shot by two youths on a motorbike as he walked home right in the bazaar (the same bazaar we all walk in frequently.)

This is the reality. I was also scared and my child was still murdered. I feel that I was wrong and should have stood up before.

Why should we sit back? Srila Prabhupada never did. He would be pleased if we serve Vrindavan in this way. It is not simply a mundane issue, it is right. This is our fathers home therefore it is also ours. Is it not our duty to protect our home???

We must find out how we can bring about a positive change to Vrindavan so it can become a peaceful and safe place that can be frequented by Indians and people worldwide.

To begin with we need to appeal to the Government of India. This should be done without defaming or offending this culture and country that we love but at the same time with force and internationally so it is spotlighted as that is the only language which I have seen work here. What is kept in the dark stays in the dark in this country.

I invite to join me in this effort.

To start with we especially need devotees skilled in writing, web design and programming to help setup a website dedicated to getting a petition up and running which we can then promote worldwide.

The demands of the petition would be:

1) enforce strict weapon control, with a big and long term blitz on weapons initially. The gun laws are strict here, but rarely enforced.

2) declare Vrindavan as an official tourist destination and bring in tourist police for the protection of the tourists. There are millions of tourists passing through here and it must be one of if not the most densely populated place by foreigners residing here in India. There are hundreds of people from all over the world who are either permanant or semi permanant residents here due to Srila Prabhupada’s mercy. There are also other Westerners here from other yoga groups which are growing up all the time.

If you want to join us in this effort please join our Google Group here:

http://groups.google.com/group/safe-vrindavan

or write to: safe-vrindavan@googlegroups.com

There are documents, articles and photos with more background at the site

Thank you and I look forward to seeing you online.

All glories to Sri Vrindavan Dham. All Glories to the residents of Sri Vrindavan Dharm who are four armed forms dear to Krishna and should be protected, All glories to all the previous acharyas who permanently reside here and mostly all glories Srila Prabhupada who spread the glories of Sri Vrindavan all over the world.

Your not so humble servant

Subhangi Devi dasi

aka Susan Manning

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Comments • [comment feed]

1 Dhamesvara Gaura das

The girls facing persistent and potentialy dengerous stalker, in uncotrollable or hostile environment can use the evasive tactic - to drastically change the appearance - means to shave the head and dress very austere, for example in rough cotton, one colour (white, grey, brown) nun-like garments.
It is hard on false ego, but effectively decrease sexual impression - giving away a message: I’m a spiritual person, not a sexual object.

your humble servant
Dhamesvara Gaura das

Comment posted by Dhamesvara Gaura das on May 28th, 2008
2 Unregistered

The suggestion given by Dhamesvara Gaura das may seem sound and sensible at first, but the truth is, a sexual predator is not deterred by shabby appearances. If that were the case, historically women who desired a life of asceticism would simply have taken to dressing in rags and voila, they would have been free to roam the roads and forests alone without fear of being raped and violated by men. The truth of the matter is that certain men do see women as sexual objects regardless of dress. Real gentlemen respect women, even when these dress provocatively (by men’s standards) out of ignorance or other reasons. Which by the way does happen in the dham just as it happens elsewhere. Not all women who reside in the dham are renounciates, and some amongst the visitors, as we have seen often, are rather unfortunate in their choice of dress while there. But the onus must be on the side of the agressor’s behavior, not the victim’s.

Comment posted by Nandini on May 30th, 2008
3 Unregistered

Regarding Subanghi Dasi’s suggestion that Vrindavan be given official tourist destination status, if indeed, as she says, “millions” go through the town, then of course its tourism status is already a fact. The area then might as well be benefitted by introducing new measures of public safety and others. The idea of bringing Vrindavana to international attention via the media is a brilliant one, Indians hate to be seen in a bad light. Unfortunately in many cases it is the only light there is to show certain aspects of India. The growing danger of male abuse of females in India is one such issue, corruption and loss of respect for tradition and orthodoxy is another, and the list goes on. Worshipers in the dham are naturally the guardians of the spirit of the dham, and that spirit, non sectarianism, is precisely what must be guarded at all costs.

Comment posted by Nandini on June 1st, 2008
4 Unregistered

Hare Krsna
pamho. agtsp.
I entirely agree with the objectives of the original poster. I have some different ideas about achieving those.
I am in Indian body and lived there more than half of my life so far.
I gather that some ISKCON Maharaj have friends amongst Indian politicians.
In India bribe(what we call in the US campaign contributions) works very effectively when dealing with politicians.
We can find Krsna-friendly powerful Indian politicians amongst all major political parties and get special laws passed for Vrindavan. Also local chief minister can be influenced with money and other methods.
I personally very much dislike bribing, but that is the only way things can get done in India.
One of Vaishnava Acharyas of yesteryears reportedly instructed disciples to treat a Mughal officer(some Kazi) providing him tobacco and other things he wanted, so that the Math will be in good books of the local government.
We can raise funds for lobbying Indian politicians about this issue.
Also, we need to make aware all our resident Indian devotees about happenings in Vrindavan and they will mobilize some actions.
Indian politicians can also be pressured by local population apart from campaign contributions :-)
Hari Bol
your servant
aspiring Vaishnav

Comment posted by asprng_vaishnav on June 6th, 2008

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