He has assiduously built a huge spiritual empire over more than two decades. But now Sarathi Baba’s empire may come crashing down over some seemingly innocuous pictures.
On August 4, a news channel aired a story that Sarathi spent time in a hotel in Hyderabad with a young woman in the first week of July with the pictures of the jeans and T-shirt clad baba in the lobby. That was spark enough to trigger protests against the baba in front of his ashram in Kendrapara, about 100km from Bhubaneswar, demanding his arrest and probe into his alleged nefarious activities.
On Saturday, the crime branch arrested Sarathi on charge of fraud after seizing Rs 2 lakh cash and some gold and silver from his ashram.
“We have seized several documents and they are being examined,” Bijay Sharma, additional director general, crime branch, said.
Sarathi has denied he ever travelled to Hyderabad. But the girl, a medical student, admitted to having stayed with him in the hotel. “Baba is not at fault; he is still a god to me. Four people, who had clicked some obscene pictures of mine while I was in a bathroom in baba’s ashram, had blackmailed me to force him to accompany me to Hyderabad,” the woman said in a complaint.