Hathras stampede: No mention of Bhole Baba in FIR, police yet to trace self-styled spiritual leader - Hindustan Times
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Hathras stampede: No mention of Bhole Baba in FIR, police yet to trace self-styled spiritual leader

Jul 04, 2024 06:34 AM IST

The case has been registered under Sections 105, 110, 126(2), 223, and 238 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), 2023.

An FIR has been registered at Sikandra Rau police station in Hathras district against Devprakash Madhukar, mukhya sevadar, and other organisers of the ‘Satsang,’ in connection with the death of 121 people in a stampede at a Fulrai village in Hathras district on Tuesday. However, there is no mention of Bhole Baba in the FIR.

Bags and other belongings lying at the scene a day after a massive stampede that took place during a 'satsang' (religious congregation), in Sikandara Rao area in Hathras district on Wednesday. (PTI)
Bags and other belongings lying at the scene a day after a massive stampede that took place during a 'satsang' (religious congregation), in Sikandara Rao area in Hathras district on Wednesday. (PTI)

The case has been registered under Sections 105, 110, 126(2), 223, and 238 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), 2023.

Bhole Baba, the self-styled spiritual leader, seems to be eluding law enforcement agencies as he has yet to be traced. There were reports that since Tuesday night Bhole Baba had moved to his ashram on the outskirts of Mainpuri city, but the police were non-committal despite enhanced security outside the ashram, where the movement of vehicles continued on Wednesday.

Read Here | 'Bhole Baba didn't allow photos to be clicked, kept phones of devotees': NCW chief on Hathras stampede

Police officials deployed near the ashram in Mainpuri ruled out the presence of Bhole Baba, also known as Suraj Pal, in the ashram and stated that security was enhanced for the safety of Bhole Baba’s followers inside the ashram in the wake of Tuesday’s incident.

The FIR blames the organisers for concealing the fact that the number of attendees at the ‘satsang’ would be in the lakhs. The FIR alleges that contrary to the expected number of 80,000 as claimed by the organisers, there was a gathering of about 2.5 lakh followers at the ‘satsang’ organised at Fulrai village on Tuesday. This large gathering led to a traffic jam on the national highway alongside which the spiritual congregation was held before ending at 2 pm.

The FIR further states that at about 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, the convoy of vehicles of Bhole Baba moved out of the venue after which the followers went into a mad rush to get the ‘raj’ or sand from the land over which Bhole Baba’s car had moved. As chaos prevailed at the venue, a stampede took place at the end of the ‘satsang’.

Read Here: Godman ‘Bhole Baba's lawyer blames ‘anti-social’ elements for Hathras tragedy

The FIR also mentions that sevadar and others from the organizing committee, armed with sticks, stopped followers, adding to the trouble. The FIR blames the organisers for being non-cooperative, using force to prevent followers from moving away, and attempting to destroy evidence by throwing away the slippers and other belongings of followers that were spread all over.

Additional superintendent of police (ASP), Hathras, Ashok Kumar Singh, said that the complaint was against the organisers, and the head sevadar had been named because he sought the permission but misled about the number of attendees. “Investigation is underway, and whoever is found responsible shall be named,” he said.

Baba often quotes Kabir Das in his sermons

A journalist who was present at the ‘satsang’ of Bhole Baba in Agra recollects that Baba often quotes Kabir Das, a revolutionary poet who targeted differences in society.

“Bhole Baba talks about family values and asks his followers to serve the elders in the family. He specifically asks daughters-in-law to serve their mothers-in-law,” said a veteran journalist in Agra. The journalist also recollects that Baba was temperamental and fond of scolding followers attending the ‘satsang’.

Hathras stampede: Chest injuries, asphyxia among causes of death, autopsy report reveals

“The followers make their arrangements on their own and expect nothing from Baba, never complaining about the lack of facilities at the ‘satsang’ site. He has his own force of volunteers who clear the route half an hour in advance whenever Baba is to arrive,” the journalist added.

“His followers consider his visit to their newly built house equivalent to a ‘grah pravesh’ ceremony, which is otherwise organized by others when purchasing or building a house.

Munni Devi (50), a follower of Baba for the last 15 years, says that Baba teaches family values and has magical powers.

“Five members of my family, including my two daughters-in-law, were having a tough time and used to fall ill repeatedly. I took all five to the ashram of Bhole Baba, but he was not present there. Yet, merely praying to Baba’s portrait, all five family members of mine got well. Since then, our whole family regularly attends the ‘satsang’,” stated Munni Devi, who is strictly against any action against Bhole Baba. She is confident that baba will return to bless them.

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