Controversial Godman Sarathi Baba Wanted Cash, Not Cheques, At His Feet

Published: 14th August 2015 11:09 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th August 2015 11:09 PM   |  A+A-

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Police escorting Sarathi Baba's aides to safety while protesters demand his arrest in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. | EPS/File

BHUBANESWAR:  Even while more skeletons tumble out of the closet of the controversial godman Sarathi Baba about his shady financial empire, the Crime Branch (CB) of Odisha police has detected a massive money collection network through Sarathi samitis across the State.

The 30 to 40 Sarathi samitis in several towns of the State, including one in Bhubaneswar, collect 'pranami' (offerings) from devotees in cash to be given to the Baba, Santosh Raula. The collections run into crores of rupees.

The CB on Friday interrogated the secretary and treasurer of the Bhubaneswar Sarathi Samiti, and it was found that the organisation had collected and paid `15 lakh to Raula in the last three years. The money had to be offered at the feet of the Baba in cash as he did not accept cheques.

The CB formed a separate team to probe the collection of money through the samitis. This is a huge exercise and will expose a major money collection network, the additional director general (ADG) of CB Bijay Sharma said.

The CB has also written to the zonal offices of all banks to inform about any transaction either by Raula or his samitis.

The probe by the CB will also focus on unearthing more land belonging to the self-styled godman. So far, it has got its hand on 50 plots of land the value of which has been shown to be around Rs 1 crore. The CB sources maintained that the price of land had been underestimated. The actual value will be several crores of rupees.

Meanwhile, the medical student and a close aide of the Baba, Kailash Mallik recorded his statement before the Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) at Cuttack under Section 164 of the CrPC. The statement of Mallik, who was close to the Baba before he was allegedly driven out, will be more problematic for the godman.

Mallik is believed to have given a detailed account of several women associates and devotees of Raula who were close to him. The CB has also done a video recording of the statement given by the medical student who had accompanied Raula to Hyderabad.

A CB team will soon visit Hyderabad to verify details about Sarathi's stay with a woman disciple in a posh hotel there last month. The CB has got evidence that the Baba spent about Rs 30, 000 on his stay there. The team will also visit the Golconda Hotel where he stayed and verify the records.

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