Bhubaneswar: Controversial self-styled ‘Godman’ Sarathi Baba was on Saturday arrested by Odisha police on cheating and other charges following violent protests demanding action against him for his alleged escapades. The arrest came after over 10 hours of intense grilling at his ashram at Barimula in Kendrapara district since yesterday and later at crime branch headquarters at Cuttack. He was put under arrest this morning, crime branch ADG BK Sharma said.
Sarathi has been booked under various section of IPC including 420 (cheating), 120(B) criminal conspiracy and 341 (wrongful restraint) as well under the Arms Act and SC/ST Act. The self-styled ‘godman’ has been at the centre of a controversy after a TV channel showed pictures alleging that he had spent two days with a woman, who posed as his wife, at a Hyderabad hotel. Sarathi, however, denied the charge and threatened to take legal action against the TV channel.
A crime branch team, which reached Sarathi’s ashram yesterday, quizzed the godman, besides conducting a thorough search of the sprawling premises, police said, adding some documents, cash, silver, gold and other materials were recovered during search. The crime branch sleuths came across some bank accounts, photographs and cctv footage during the operation and these were being examined, they said. Protests against Sarathi rocked Kendrapara town yesterday with people involved in pitched battles with police. While prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrCP were clamped in the area, SP Satish Gajbhiye was shifted from Kendrapara and Nitinjit Singh replaced him.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had already ordered a crime branch probe into the charges against Sarathi. However, BJP today demanded a court-monitered investigation into the activities of Sarathi and said probe by crime branch would yield no result. State BJP President K V Singhdeo and senior leader Bijay Mohapatra also demanded immediate arrest of ex-SP of Kenrapara Satish Gajbhiye for alleged police excesses against the protesters. Meanwhile, a woman medico who allegedly accompanied Sarathi to Hyderabad last month and stayed in a hotel for three days has lodged a complaint apprehending threat to her life and seeking police protection. Police said an FIR was registered on her complaint in which the woman has mentioned the names of four persons for blackmailing her and threatening of dire consequences if she did not do what they wanted. All these four were previously associated with the Ashram of the self-stled Godman, the complaint said.