Selfstyled godman held over killing of BSP leader
NEW DELHI: The Ghaziabad police on Saturday arrested self-styled godman Baba Pratibhanand, in connection with the murder of BSP leader and businessman Deepak Bhardwaj in 2013.
The Ghaziabad police on Saturday arrested self-styled godman Baba Pratibhanand, who is wanted by Delhi police in connection with the murder of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader and businessman Deepak Bhardwaj in 2013.
Investigation had revealed that Pratibhanand hired contract killers to kill Bhardwaj, the richest candidate in the 2009 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls with declared assets of nearly ₹600 crore. The arrest is the latest in the sordid saga of ‘godmen‘ found involved in ghastly crimes.
Last month, another so-called spiritual leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted of raping two of his female devotees.
Earlier this year, a 23-year-old law student in Kerala chopped off the genitals of a self-proclaimed holy man, Gangeshananda Theerthapada, also known as Sree Hari, for allegedly trying to rape her.
These “spiritual leaders” built vast empires often through dubious deals.
Machendranath alias Pratibhanand — a native of Beed in Maharashtra — too nursed an ambition to build his own ashram. He allegedly demanded ₹5 crore for Bhardwaj’s contract killing, out of which he had planned to corner ₹2 crore to build the ashram in Haridwar.
“Pratibhanand was arrested from Ghaziabad junction by a police team and booked him under the Arms Act. After getting information that he was roaming around Ghaziabad railway junction, we launched a manhunt with several teams and nabbed him. A pistol was also recovered from his possession. He was absconding since Bhardwaj’s killing,” said Akash Tomar, superintendent of police (city).
The officer said the self-styled godman had arranged shooters for Bhardwaj’s murder and had a bounty of ₹1lakh on his head.
According to sources, Pratibhanand had run away from Maharashtra during his childhood and had arrived in Delhi where he became a ‘baba’ at a temple.
Earlier in 2013, Bhardwaj’s younger son Nitesh confessed that he got his father killed by engaging assailants provided by Pratibhanand. He held a grudge against his father for refusing to give a share in his (Bhardwaj’s) property to him.