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Hathras: Who is Surajpal alias ‘Bhole Baba’ with bhakts including Akhilesh Yadav, the ‘Godman’ at whose Satsang stampede led to over 100 deaths

The baba earlier made headlines for flouting rules during the Covid-19 pandemic and despite permission for less than a hundred followers, it was reported that his Satsang amassed over 50,000 followers.

The stampede at a private religious event in Hathras has now claimed over 100 lives. The number of fatalities is expected to further rise with several more people critically injured and in the hospital. The stampede took place during a Satsang which was being led by a self-styled Godman who goes by various aliases ‘Bhole Baba’ aka Narayan Sakar Hari or Sakaar Vishwa Hari. He is said to be close to several politicians including Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav who has in the past attended his Satsang and hailed him. According to media reports, he has several criminal cases registered against him including heinous cases of sexual exploitation

Who is Surajpal and his ‘spiritual journey’ from a career in state police

Surajpal hails from Bahadur village in Etah district and comes from Jatav samaj. He claims to be a former employee of the Intelligence Bureau (IB). However, as per reports, he had worked with the state police and allegedly took VRS 26 years ago to begin delivering religious sermons. He then started giving religious and spiritual sermons and changed his maiden name and now goes by various aliases Bhole Baba or Narayan Sakar Hari. There is a dispute about his claims of being in IB with media reports stating that he was allegedly in the Local Intelligence Unit (LIU) of the state Police.

Bhole Baba claims that he directly received preachings from the Almighty and is claimed that he is not a follower of any ‘guru’. His Satsangs are referred to as ‘Manav Mangal Milan Sadbhavna Samagam.’ They are mostly organised on Tuesdays in Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh. He is often seen in a white suit, tie, and shoes, and sometimes in kurta-pajama.

He is more popular as ‘Sakar Vishwa Hari Baba’. Bhole Baba is often accompanied by his wife at sermons. As per reports, his followers are mostly people from the lower economic strata. They particularly hail from the Agra and Aligarh divisions of the Braj region. 

However, he holds sway in several districts in Uttar Pradesh and adjoining states as well as is close to several politicians. He has followers across western Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Delhi. Several MPs, and MLAs including Former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav claim to be his devotees/followers and have attended his congregation. After attending his Satsang in 2023, Samajwadi Chief Yadav shared pictures on social media and wrote, “Narayan Sakar Hari ki sampooran brahman me sada sada ke liye jai ho.” (Translation – ‘May there be eternal glory to Narayan Sakar Hari throughout the entire universe.'”

The baba has avoided media scrutiny and has kept media away from his satsangs. He stays away from social media and does not have any official accounts on any platform. His followers claim that his influence is substantial at the grassroots level. 

Bhole Baba’s followers also do voluntary work to oversee the arrangements for devotees, including food and drinks. They wear pinkish shirts and pants and white caps. They also manage the traffic and internal arrangements at his congregations. 

The baba earlier made headlines for flouting rules during the Covid-19 pandemic and despite permission for less than a hundred followers, it was reported that his Satsang amassed over 50,000 followers.

Speaking with Aaj Tak, former UP DGP Vikram Singh said, “This congregation was an invitation for trouble as arrangements made at the venue were inadequate. Leave aside the ambulance system, even basic police, fire, and medical systems that should be there were not there. Now who will answer this? He claims that earlier he was in Intelligence, Police personnel and then took VRS. Many cases are registered against him.” 

The former DGP said, “Now if 100 deaths occur, whose moral and legal responsibility will it be? Baba. There are six cases against him. At least there should be basic police arrangements and transportation routes, and if any disaster occurs, you should have some emergency-related arrangements. This is a matter of extreme concern and grief.” 

According to reports, the satsang was organised at his ashram in the Fullerai village of Hathras. The venue was small and overcrowded. Because of the suffocation in small areas in hot and humid weather, the devotees rushed out as soon as the Satsang ended, leading to the stampede.

Inspector General Aligarh Range Shalabh Mathur said prima facie, it appeared that some people felt suffocated at the premises because of the hot and humid weather, and when the ‘satsang’ ended, those inside the enclosure rushed out resulting in a stampede killing mostly the women and children.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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