“Don’t Know Where He Is, Don’t Need To”: Bhole Baba’s Lawyer

Making a late-night appearance outside the ashram in Mainpuri where Bhole Baba aka Narayan Saakar Hari is believed to be staying, the self-styled godman’s lawyer said he does not know where he is and does not need to know either. 

Repeating the claim that anti-social elements caused the stampede at the religious event organised in the godman’s honour in Hathras, in which 121 people were killed, the lawyer also said the baba is a follower of the law and will not go on the run. The original name of the ‘godman’ is Suraj Pal.

The lawyer hired by Pal is AP Singh, who has defended Nirbhaya gangrape convicts, represented Seema Haider, the Pakistani woman who crossed over into India illegally and appeared on behalf of farm unions during the farmers’ protests. 

Addressing reporters outside the ashram on Thursday night, Mr Singh said in Hindi, “I don’t know where he (Pal) is and I don’t want to know. I just want to do my work… As soon as I find out, I will tell you… How can I or you say he is responsible… From what I have found out about Narayan Saakar Hari, he is not going to go on the run. He is a follower of the law, he believes in BR Ambedkar’s constitution. He will be in an ashram, not a hotel. He doesn’t stay at a hotel.”

On the events of Tuesday, Mr Singh said the ‘satsang’ (religious event) was organised in an open area with fields everywhere and reports of a closed space were untrue. 

“I spoke to people who attended the ‘satsang’. Elderly women who were injured told me something like this has never happened before. They said they had been attending the ‘satsangs’ for 15-18 years and they were held every Tuesday, barring a few weeks in the past few months. The women told me the men who crushed people were well-built, seemed drunk and started as soon as they saw an opportunity,” the lawyer claimed. 

“I asked them how long it had been since Narayan Saakar Hari left and they said 30-35 minutes,” he said, adding that many of the organisers and volunteers also left their loved ones, including their children, mothers and wives. 

Asked whether the administration was at fault because permission was given to hold an event near a highway, Mr Singh pointed out that the question does not arise because no traffic accidents took place. 

Mr Singh also brushed away a reporter’s query on Pal’s followers calling the ‘godman’ a ‘parmatma’ (immortal soul) and said he was one too, because he had a soul which was also immortal.

Pal’s Arrest?

Issuing a brief statement on Wednesday after maintaining silence since the stampede, Pal expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and said he will take legal action against “anti-social elements” that were allegedly behind the tragedy. 

Asked whether Pal would be arrested, Inspector General (Aligarh Range) Shalabh Mathur had said earlier on Thursday that he was not named in the first information report and the police would take further action based on the facts that emerge.

“We will make arrests based on what the investigation reveals… We will question the baba if necessary, it is too early to say or comment whether he has a role. He has not been named in the FIR, which has held the organisers responsible. The permission was taken by the organising committee and members of the panel have been arrested,” he said.

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