On the run for 4 years, ‘baba’ held for BSP leader’s mur­der

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - Front Page - Peeyush Khandelwal peeyush.khandelwal@hin­dus­tan­times.com

AR­RESTED Prat­i­b­hanand was hired by Deepak Bhard­waj’s son, nabbed in Ghazi­abad while on his way to Harid­war

Ghazi­abad po­lice on Satur­day ar­rested self-styled god­man Baba Prat­i­b­hanand who was wanted in Delhi in con­nec­tion with the mur­der of Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party leader and busi­ness­man Deepak Bhard­waj in 2013.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions in the mur­der had re­vealed that Prat­i­b­hanand had hired con­tract killers to elim­i­nate Bhard­waj, a real es­tate ty­coon and the rich­est can­di­date in the 2009 Lok Sabha elec­tions, with de­clared as­sets of nearly Rs 600 crore.

The ar­rest is the lat­est in the saga of ‘god­men‘ in In­dia found to be in­volved in ghastly crimes rang­ing from sex­ual abuse to mur­der.

Machen­dranath alias Prat­i­b­hanand — a na­tive of Beed in Ma­ha­rash­tra — nursed am­bi­tions to build his own ashram. He al­legedly de­manded ₹5 crore for Bhard­waj’s con­tract killing, out of which he had planned to keep ₹2 crore to him­self for build­ing an ashram in Harid­war.

“Prat­i­b­hanand was ar­rested from Ghazi­abad junc­tion by a po­lice team and booked un­der the Arms Act as a pis­tol was seized from his pos­ses­sion. Af­ter get­ting in­for­ma­tion that he was headed to Harid­war, we launched a man­hunt and nabbed him. He was ab­scond­ing since Bhard­waj’s killing and has con­fessed to hav­ing pro­vided shoot­ers to kill Bhard­waj,” said HN Singh, se­nior su­per­in­ten­dent of po­lice, Ghazi­abad.

The of­fi­cer said the self-styled god­man had ar­ranged two shoot­ers for Bhard­waj’s mur­der and had a bounty of Rs 1 lakh on his head but had been evad­ing the po­lice for more than four years.

“I did this (of­fer shoot­ers to kill the MLA) for a clean so­ci­ety,” Prat­i­b­hanand said.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, Prat­i­b­hanand had run away from Ma­ha­rash­tra dur­ing his child­hood and had ar­rived in Delhi where he be­came the ‘baba’ at a tem­ple.

In 2013, Bhard­waj’s son Nitesh had con­fessed that he had got his fa­ther killed by as­sailants pro­vided by Prat­i­b­hanand. He held a grudge against his fa­ther for re­fus­ing to give him a share in his (Bhard­waj’s) prop­erty to him.

The con­spir­acy was hatched six months be­fore the killing.

Prat­i­b­hanand was roped in by an ac­com­plice of Nitesh. The self­styled god­man hired Pu­rushot­tam Rana alias Monu and Su­nil Mann, as the two shoot­ers who al­legedly gunned down the BSP leader on March 26, 2013, in­side his farm­house.

SAKIB ALI/ HT

Baba Prat­i­b­hanand, wanted for the 2013 killing of Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party leader Deepak Bhard­waj, was ar­rested from Ghazi­abad junc­tion on Satur­day while he was on his way to Harid­war.

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