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An enigmatic godman, a controversial life

HIS RISE from lekhpal Santram Tiwari in the Consolidation Department to Sant Gyaneshwar was a controversial one. Though an accused in many cases, including the murder of an MLA and a district magistrate in Bihar, his disciples gave him the status of ?Bhagwan?.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2006 01:19 IST

HIS RISE from lekhpal Santram Tiwari in the Consolidation Department to Sant Gyaneshwar was a controversial one.

Though an accused in many cases, including the murder of an MLA and a district magistrate in Bihar, his disciples gave him the status of ‘Bhagwan’.

Vehicles with red and blue beacons were a regular feature at his sprawling ashram, situated 30 km from the district headquarters in Raisadha village, under Kothi police station.

In 1999, Gyaneshwar was accused of the murder of Sultanpur MLA Indrabhadra Singh over a land dispute. Police conducted a raid, but could not enter into his ashram, due to stiff resistance from his securitymen. Later, he surrendered in court.

A native of Deoria district, he began his career as a lekhpal in the Consolidation Department. 1After being dismissed from service, he shifted base to Bihar.

There, he was allegedly involved in the murder of the Gopalganj DM inside his chamber.

There were protests when he acquired land of many Dalits for establishing a ‘Puroshottam Dham’ in the village. But, the resentment was short-lived.

Police sources said besides Barabanki, he had ashrams in Lucknow, Sultanpur, Hardwar and Bihar. He used to spend most of his time at the Barabanki ashram, which he had made his headquarters. All through, he remained an enigma for locals.

Shrutiman Shukla, who had been to the ashram many times, said, “I could see him just once. There was a mystery over everything there.” Puja was offered to his khadau (traditional slippers) in other ashrams.

Apart from possessing around 300 bigha of land, the ashram used to ply many buses.

Locals had little interaction with the ashram and most of them were denied entry into the premises. Perhaps, this is the reason there has been no reaction to his murder in the district.

The gates are closed now though about 200 followers, including Sant Gyaneshwar’s brother Sant Parmanand, are on the premises.

However, when the Kothi station house officer visited the place, none of them disclosed details of the funeral plans.

Debate in native village
WAS SANT Gyaneshwar a criminal or a bona fide seer? This was the issue of discussion in his native village of Pipra Bhual, under Badhoch Ghat police station, in Deoria district. A large number of people of his native village said false cases were registered against him. They were expecting the body to be brought here before the funeral.

First Published: Feb 12, 2006 01:19 IST