Akshaya has always been forthright, factual and timely regarding the happenings at Akshaya. Although Akshaya, Krishnan, the volunteers and the Akshaya Home staff were subjected to a harrowing ordeal for over three months, we had no choice but to remain silent. It was virtually impossible to make sense of the nightmare of false accusations that were levied against Akshaya and we were further restrained by a web of confusing judicial proceedings. In fairness to all concerned, including our donors and supporters, Akshaya had no choice but to remain resolutely silently, and to work feverishly to document and present the facts to the authorities. The last 100 days were physical and mental agonies for those that have given so much to bring help and compassion to the helpless.
On June 5th, 2014 Mehar Nisha, a mentally challenged Akshaya resident, ran away from the Akshaya Home to a nearby village. Being in a mental frenzy and having lost most of her clothes she attracted a large crowd to whom she alleged she had been sexually assaulted while held against her will at the Akshaya Home. She also claimed there were mysterious deaths, kidney stealing was prevalent, and X-rated films were being made at the Akshaya Home.
A riot instigated by a group from the Popular front of India quickly broke out. Akshaya’s staff members, who came to the village to bring Nisha back, were assaulted by the mob, and a woman staff member had her clothes pulled off. Neither of these abusive acts were recognized or reported by the media nor the organizations that later filed complaints against Akshaya.
The next day the Collector’s office sent a team to the Akshaya Home to investigate the allegations. They officially reported that Akshaya was providing excellent care to the residents, and they could find no evidence of wrongdoing. At this point any rational individual or organization would have concluded that the deranged woman was not to be believed. Without justification the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) filed a lawsuit demanding all allegations be further investigated. As a result of the unjustified demand, 100 days of intense investigation ensued. All branches of intelligence, including the CBI, were dispatched to the Akshaya Home to scrutinize all records.
A court appointed Advocate Commissioner and psychologist brought government doctors to the Akshaya Home to examine the 535 residents. After giving less than two minutes per patient examination, they concluded that 222 of the residents should be released and reunited with families. The irrationality of these findings becomes quite acute when the facts are considered:
• The 222 residents to be released were physically and/or mentally challenged defenseless residents.
• Many of those residents to be released did not have families that could be identified and contacted, and most of those contacted did not want the person returned to them.
Based on the doctors’ findings the court issued orders to reunite the 222 residents with their families, and provided court personnel the funds to implement the orders. It was very painful for all of us to submit to the irrationality of the order but based on the advise of our legal counsel we acquiesced to the order as have no hidden agenda in taking care of the destitute – only compassion for a fellow human being that is helpless. The court personnel reunited a few of the residents with their families but the rest were released on the streets of Madurai with just a few rupees in their pockets. The irony is that these are the same streets we had rescued these people from and to bathe, clothe, fed and safely shelter them. Of the 222 released by the court’s order 140 still exist on the streets.
While these series of events were difficult for all of us, there were two notable moments that stand out as bright beacons of hope. Shortly after the charges had been brought against Akshaya we were blessed with the support of counsel G. R. Swaminathan. He is well respected in judicial circles for his legal wisdom, and he is greatly respected by all for his genuine compassion and determination for the truth. The other beacon of hope was the sitting of a new judge on the court bench.
Upon reviewing the case the new judge immediately realized the report by the Advocate Commissioner was not accurate and misrepresented the facts. Upon seeing pictures of the Akshaya Home the judge realized that a destitute person living on the streets would find the conditions at the Akshaya Home wonderful beyond belief. Unfortunately those that sought to bring shame to Akshaya were not ready to give up their vendetta. Endless abuses were directed at the Akshaya team as a group and as individuals, abuses that proved futile against the strength of those that are the heart of Akshaya. The continued investigations went well beyond the paper records, and included drug tests of staff, campus searches with cadaver dogs, probing of individuals’ private affairs, and much more. While having impeccable records was important, the greatest factor that brought Akshaya through the 100 days of the ordeal was the strength of the entire staff and supporting doctors, and the leadership of Krishnan. Knowing the truth, they all stood with Akshaya knowing they would all be exonerated.
During the course of these terrible events the media assumed the charges were valid and used the gossip from the streets to publish inaccurate and damaging stories of the alleged mistreatment. Not one media outlet took time to visit the Akshaya Home to verify the validity of what they were publishing in spite of the fact that they were invited to do so. Many of the media outlets such as The Hindu, The tamil papers have global distribution, which gave rise to harsh and unjustified abuse on Internet social forums.
The air was full of hope and expectation in the courtroom. The judge was to announce the verdict – the ordeal would soon be over. The judge clearly and without equivocation exonerated Akshaya on all charges. The Akshaya team’s sense of relief, however, was short-lived. A resident of the Akshaya Home had recently died and the body was handed over to the doctors, as required by law, for a post mortem. Soon accusations started flying that the body had been mishandled and post mortem was not accurate. Although Akshaya was not involved with the issues, the news media and AIDWA seized the moment in an attempt to imply Akshaya was “once again” at fault. The honorable justices saw through the conspiracy, as it was unfolding and advised that the issues with the doctors and government would be handled as a separate case. Realizing we could be subjected to more unjustified attacks as we fulfilled our mission, a request was filed with the court asking for police assistance during all rescues.
The final court day was at hand and all interesting parties gathered for the formal issuance of the written verdict. Akshaya was fully exonerated. To be sure the world understood Akshaya’s innocence the judge, speaking from the bench, thanked Krishnan and Akshaya for their contribution to society and implored them to keep up their good work. Today Akshaya stands tall in the eyes of those that serve and support her. Akshaya is again devoting her energy to the mission of helping the helpless.
This ordeal has shown the strength and depth of devotion of the Akshaya staff, volunteers and their leader Krishnan. There are other important people that made significant contributions to be sure the truth was brought to light – our supporters that stood by us throughout the ordeal certainly deserve mention. While working behind the scenes but strongly guiding Akshaya’s direction in bringing the truth to light was our most honorable counsel Mr. G. R. Swaminathan and his support team. Upon hearing the accusations brought against Akshaya, Mr. G. R. Swaminathan visited the Akshaya Home and determined on his own that Akshaya was innocent and took on the significant challenge of representing Akshaya and Krishnan in the legal proceedings. He did this out of a belief that the truth must prevail, and he provided all the much needed legal support pro bono. Learned Legal counsel Yashodhvardhanji also worked for Akshaya’s cause pro bono.
The events of the last 100 days have come to a conclusion, at least for the events in the public eye. Krishnan and the Akshaya team have been left with an indelible mark on their persona – it was an ordeal that will never be forgotten. Much work has to be done to bring the daily operations of the Akshaya Home back to normal and to mitigate the impact of substantial unexpected expenses. The biggest challenge is to let the world know that Akshaya has again met a challenge to its integrity and shown it is worthy of its reputation of trust and compassion. This will be a sizable task as it lies in the hands of the media and organizations that so quickly tried Akshaya in the eyes of the public without taking a moment’s time to seek the truth. While the sensational accusations proved to be a catalyst for media attention the fact that Akshaya has been totally exonerated has been totally ignored by the media and the misguided accusers have given no apologies. The only mention of the final court proceeds was a short paragraph that left the reader thinking Akshaya had failed to follow certain undefined legal procedures.
We know differently and our stand is further supported by the fact that the court has now directed the police to seek out the 140 helpless souls wondering the streets of Madurai and bring them back to the Akshaya Home. Help us spread the word of Akshaya’s exoneration, help us by continuing your faithful support, help us in our effort to provide care and compassion to the abandoned helpless.
Attached is the verdict from the courts – Akshaya Trust – Court Verdict