“Sources said that decision to arrest godman, who used to attract followers by performing magic tricks, was taken after his intensive grilling and proof about his huge wealth and sexual exploitation of women. The Crime Branch team found evidence of blackmailing of young women with their nude photos taken by cameras hidden in bathrooms of the lodge inside the ashram.” – Rakesh Dixit
After days of violent agitations against him, self-styled godman Sarathi Baba alias Santosh Raula was on Saturday, [August 8th] arrested by state Crime Branch which has decided to take him on five-day remand.
Crime Branch ADG B. K. Sharma said that 47-year-old Sarathi, who made it big as a godman in the last 10 years, was arrested under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 506 (criminal intimidation), 379 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code and the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Sarathi, whose shenanigans became a matter of public debate after local TV channels ran reports about his stay at a posh Hyderabad hotel last month along with a young medicine student, was arrested following initial questioning at the Crime Branch headquarters in Cuttack, where he was brought from his ashram at Barimula in Kendrapara early on Saturday, [August 8th].
Sharma said a special team of Crime Branch led by an Additional SP had been to the Barimula ashram and submitted a report after investigation.
“Based on the report, the Crime Branch registered a case (No-17) at the CID police station,” said Sharma.
He said the Crime Branch team had seized important documents, bank documents, gold, silver and cash from the ashram.
Significantly, two swords were seized from the ashram following which section 25 of the Arms Act has been slapped. He has also been charged under Section 7 of Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1988.
The seizures from the ashram included bank and property documents, 15 kg of silver, 54.1 grams of gold, cash worth Rs 2.28 lakh and 55 kg of metal coins with pictures of the godman. Crime Branch has asked for seizure of the godman’s bank accounts.
Sources said that decision to arrest godman, who used to attract followers by performing magic tricks, was taken after his intensive grilling and proof about his huge wealth and sexual exploitation of women.
The Crime Branch team found evidence of blackmailing of young women with their nude photos taken by cameras hidden in bathrooms of the lodge inside the ashram.
While three bank accounts worth Rs 30 lakh of the godman, who hails from Ganjam, were seized, the sleuths also got hold of his passport.
The godman, who is alleged to have bought a flat worth Rs 55 lakh in Bhubaneswar, also had dealings with people involved in the chit fund scam.
The arrest followed violent protests against the godman in different parts of the state, including Kendrapara in which at least 100 people have been injured and over two dozen arrested so far.
While Kendrapara superintendent of police Satish Gajbhiye was shifted immediately following allegations of high-handedness, the lawyers’ association has announced a state-wide bandh on August 10 against police atrocities in Kendrapara. – Mail Online India, 8 August 2015
The Odisha Crime Branch is focusing on financial transactions of self-styled godman Sarathi Baba also known as Santosh Raula who was interrogated for the third day on Tuesday with three separate teams of sleuths checking as many as 18 bank accounts of the spiritual guru and his trust.
Sources said so far the Crime Branch has come across proof of deposits worth over Rs 2.5 crore in the seized bank accounts most of which are in Kendrapara. It has also gathered proof of 11 plots belonging to the Baba and his trust. He also owns a house worth Rs 55 lakh in Bhubaneswar.
Crime Branch teams checked records pertaining to the 47-year-old godman in the income tax office and the sub-registrar’s office in Kendrapara. Additional director general of police of Crime Branch, B.K. Sharma, said that the godman will be produced in the court of sub-divisional judicial magistrate (SDJM), Cuttack, on Wednesday at the end of his three-day remand period. The court will be requested to extend his remand by another five days.
Thirteen associates of the godman were also questioned by the Crime Branch. One of them, Khaga, had been accused of blackmail by the girl who had accompanied Sarathi to Hyderabad last month. They had stayed at a posh hotel in the southern city. The sleuths had also recorded the statement of the girl on Monday.
“We have found plots in the name of the godman at prime locations in Puri, Bhubaneswar and Khordha, two houses in Bhubaneswar and one in Kendrapara town,” said a senior Crime Branch official.
Sources said during the search operation at the godman’s ashram in Kendrapara, the sleuths came to know that a woman was staying in one of the rooms for a long time. They also checked the visitors’ register and conducted the measurement of 2.5 acres of the land on which the ashram has been built.
Meanwhile, Congress and BJP, the two major opposition parties of the state, stepped up their agitation demanding suspension and arrest of former Kendrapara SP Satish Gajbhiye who was transferred following the alleged excesses committed by him during the protests against the godman on August 7.
State BJP president KV Singh Deo said his party would be satisfied with nothing less than the arrest of the police officer who had crossed all limits of decency. “If necessary, pressure would be put on the Centre for acting against him,” said Singh Deo adding that Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan had also criticised the SP. – India Today, 12 August 2015
The crime branch of Odisha police has claimed to have unearthed startling facts from controversial godman Srimad Sarathi Baba alias Santosh Raul with regard to his alleged immoral activities as well as accumulation of huge assets by deceitful means.
The godman, who was arrested on Saturday, claimed himself as incarnation of Lord Krishna and wanted his devotees, mainly women followers, to love him as gopis.
In the line of the rituals of Puri’s Jagannath temple, Sarathi Baba’s ashram too designed some rituals, like Anant Sayan or deep sleep on a specially designed cot fitted with a wooden seven-hood snake decorated with gold and silver ornaments.
After the devotees leave the ashram at around 11 pm, Sarathi Baba would recline in his restroom and asked his confidants to let in the women devotees who desired to perform the Gupta Seva or secret ritual. These women were gifted with designer dresses, sarees and gold and silver ornaments, sources in the CB said.
In fact, the CB has seized a huge cache of clothes and ornaments during the raid on the ashram in Barimula in Kendrapara district. On Tuesday, the crime branch officials questioned Sarathi Baba mainly on his financial transactions and land deals. The cyber cell of the crime branch also examined the income tax documents of Sarathi Baba.
The CB officials said they would move the court seeking to take Sarathi Baba on remand of five more days for further questioning. – Deccan Chronicle, 12 August 2015
Accusing ruling BJD leaders in Odisha of having close links with arrested self-styled godman Sarathi Baba, the BJP on Tuesday sought to know why no action was taken against a former Kendrapara SP for police excesses on demonstrators who demanded Baba’s arrest.
“BJD government in Odisha is in the dock over the so-called Baba’s activities. Handling of the episode showed the ruling party and its leaders had close links with the self- styled godman,” BJP’s All-India general secretary P. Muralidhar Rao said. Though it was the state government’s responsibility to ensure quick investigation into Sarathi episode, the manner in which the controversial issue was handled clearly showed the state government was trying to hide and suppress facts.
People across the state had turned restless over the whole issue particularly because of the state government’s approach towards dealing with the episode which also exposed criminalisation of administration, Rao claimed. Accusing the state government of trying to protect former Kendrapara Satish Gajbhiye, the BJP leader said the IPS officer was only shifted from the district following a public outcry amid allegation of police excesses on demonstrators who agitated demanding arrest of Sarathi.
However, no action has been taken against the police officer despite agitation by people, including lawyers community, across the state, he said. He said the party would intensify the agitation if strong action was not taken against the ex-SP of Kendrapara. – DNA, 11 August 2015
» Rakesh Dixit is the current bureau chief for Hindustan Times in Bhopal.