Fear of 'revolution' by Ananda Marga sect
January 01, 2009
CABINET feared the Ananda Marga sect could be waging a long-term campaign for revolution in Australia just months after the Hilton Hotel bombing in Sydney -- a crime long suspected to be the work of the Indian-based organisation.
Cabinet documents show the Fraser government was deeply concerned about the activities of the group's Australian arm, which was considered the most violent section of the Ananda Marga outside of India.
But despite the high degree of anxiety, the minister for administrative services, Fred Chaney, advised against banning the sect.
The recommendation was contained in a cabinet submission dated 10 months after the infamous Hilton bombing, which killed two council workers and a police officer, making it the deadliest terrorist attack to occur on Australian soil.
In the submission, Mr Chaney writes of the group's propensity for violence, driven in part by the government's crackdown on the Ananda Marga.
"Except for India, there have been more publicised acts of violence and harassment in Australia attributable to Ananda Marga members than anywhere else; Australia appears to have taken more stringent administrative measures against the organisation," Mr Chaney wrote.
"Australia therefore is presented with a new phenomenon, that of an organisation claiming to be spiritual and non-violent but harbouring militant fanatics determined to go to extraordinary lengths, including the use of violence, to achieve its ends, whatever they may be at any given time."
Mr Chaney goes on to lament that the legal and administrative tools at the cabinet's disposal are not capable of dealing with the problem "other than in a reactive way".
By the time Mr Chaney offered his submission, the Ananda Marga had been implicated in a series of attacks.
A year earlier, the Indian attache and his wife were attacked in Canberra and, also in 1977, an Air India employee was stabbed in Melbourne.
The Hilton bombing, which coincided with a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to be attended by the Indian prime minister Moraji Desai, was also thought to be the work of Ananda Marga, meaning "path of bliss".
Two Ananda Margi, Tim Anderson and Evan Pederick, were later convicted over the bombing -- Pederick after he confessed.
But Mr Anderson was cleared on appeal and the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal questioned Pederick's evidence. He was eventually released from jail in 1997.
The group's proximate casus belli was the jailing in India of its founder, Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar.
In his submission, Mr Chaney argues against banning the organisation, a move he concludes would be legally difficult and "politically undesirable".
He also warned of the possibility of further violence, should the campaign succeed to have the passport of Ananda Marga's Australasian spiritual director, ML Brandon, returned.
"There are indications that senior Ananda Marga members have decided on a possible long-term campaign for revolution in Australia," Mr Chaney wrote.
"However, Ananda Marga's capacity to enter into such a campaign is limited and it is not yet possible to determine the extent of support for revolutionary action within the sect."
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