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Noose tightens around Hathras ‘godman’ as UP Police cordon off ashram

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Shillong, July 3: The noose has started tightening around godman Bhole Baba, aka Narayan Saakar Hari, whose religious discourse in UP’s Hathras district on Tuesday culminated in a devastating stampede that left at least 121 dead and a dozen others injured.

 

Though Bhole Baba’s name does not figure in the initial FIR filed in connection with the incident, the police have cordoned off his ashram in Mainpuri, following reports that the godman could be hiding in his palatial abode.

 

“We have found the location of his mobile phone to be near his ashram and we are keeping a close watch,” said a senior police official.

 

Meanwhile, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who visited Hathras on Wednesday has announced a judicial probe into the stampede incident.

 

He interacted with the injured persons in the hospital and took first-hand information about the circumstances leading to the tragedy.

 

“I had a conversation with several eyewitnesses and they informed me that the incident took place after the programme was over when the preacher of the Satsang was coming down from the stage. Suddenly several women started going towards him to touch him and the sevadars (volunteers) stopped them, due to which this accident happened. The administration was not allowed to enter inside by the sevadars,” the Chief Minister said at a press conference.

 

A video clip has also gone viral on social media which shows the godman leaving the venue in his car and hundreds of devotees running behind his car to gather the dust as a token of blessings.

 

The report submitted by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate claims that the behaviour of the godman’s sevadars was responsible for the incident, as they tried to push back the devotees which led to the stampede.

 

The report also says that the number of devotees who arrived at the discourse was three times more than the number for which permission had been sought.

 

In a related development, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea has been filed before the Allahabad High Court seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the Hathras stampede incident. The event was organised by self-styled godman, Bhole Baba, at Fulrai village under the Sikandrarau police station area of Hathras district.

 

The PIL plea, moved by advocate Gaurav Dwivedi, claims that the district authorities were “totally responsible” for its “negligent” act due to which the stampede occurred and that this type of inappropriate law and order situation in the state would lead to people losing faith in the government. It further states that the district authorities have mechanisms in place to prevent and control any unwarranted situations, and the state government is investing substantial public funds in new techniques for better administration but still such an incident occurred.

 

Further, the petitioner has submitted that he is very concerned about the safety of devotees who would be attending Maha Kumbh, the world’s largest religious gathering, which is scheduled to take place in Prayagraj in 2025. (IANS)

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