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Naga sadhu, Narendra Giri, found dead

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Narendra Giri, the country’s top naga sadhu who had always been close to power, was found hanging from the ceiling of his room at the Baghambari Mutt in Allahabad on Monday evening.

The police claimed the chairman of the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad — an umbrella body of the country’s 15 major akharas or sects of naga sadhus — wrote a suicide note naming people he had differences with.

Officers said three of those named had been detained. Among them was Narendra’s estranged disciple Anand Giri who had in May accused the guru of selling off the mutt’s properties and passing off the proceeds to his family and a few politicians.

Anand Giri told reporters Narendra was murdered and that a fake suicide note had been prepared to frame him. Narendra, who was in his late 60s, had had a meeting on Sunday with deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya at the Bade Hanuman Temple in Allahabad where he was head priest. Maurya said it was a chance meeting.

Narendra is said to have been close to chief minister Yogi Adityanath, as well as to Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav when they were in power. He loved the trappings of power, and the state government had obliged him with Y-plus security.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted in Hindi that Narendra Giri had “united many streams of the saint communities” and that “God will give him a place at His feet .

Narendra Giri headed the mutt as well as the Niranjani Akhara, to which the mutt belongs.

Inspector-general of police (Allahabad zone) K.P. Singh said a disciple of Narendra had called the police after bringing the body down.

“We have found an eight-page suicide note in which he says it had become impossible for him to live without dignity (samman),” he said.

Singh said a forensic team would examine the note. “The suicide note is more like a will, in which he has named two-three disciples and said the saints of the mutt should look after them. He has described in detail which property of the mutt should be given to whom,” he said.

The heads of mutts in Uttar Pradesh are custodians but not owners of their properties.Asked whether the note named those with whom Narendra had developed differences over the mutt’s properties, Singh said: “Yes, he has mentioned four-five names.”

Asked whether Anand Giri was among them, the officer said he was.Singh said sadhus of the Niranjani Akhara would be arriving on Tuesday morning from across the country. The post-mortem would be done after taking their consent.A disciple of Narendra said: “He had his lunch around noon and went to his room. He usually came out at 3.30pm and worshipped at the Bade Hanuman temple.

“When he failed to come out even at 4pm, we called him on his phone but there was no response. We then knocked and eventually broke the door down around 5.20pm. He was hanging from the ceiling.”

The police have detained Adhya Tiwari — a priest at the Bade Hanuman temple — and his son Sandeep Tiwari, who has a sweets shop near the temple.

Uttarakhand police have detained Anand Giri in Haridwar, where he had relocated after Narendra suspended him following his allegations. He will be brought to Allahabad. Anand Giri told reporters: “I believe some people killed Guruji and then hanged him. He was being pressured for money. I believe some police officers and mutt members are involved.”

He added: “My name being in the note is a conspiracy. He never wrote that note.”

Maurya told reporters: “I had gone to the Bade Hanuman temple on Sunday simply to worship. He (Narendra) conducted the prayers in my presence. I was in a hurry and returned to Lucknow thereafter.”

He added: “He was not happy after Anand Giri levelled allegations against him. But he was a sadhu of indomitable spirit.”Kailashanand, the mahamandaleshwar (an official) of the Niranjani Akhara, said he found it difficult to believe Narendra would commit suicide.

Champat Rai, VHP international vice-president and general secretary of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, expressed sorrow at Narendra’s death.

 


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