Mahant Narendra Giri, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP), considered the largest grouping of sadhus in the country, was found dead at Baghambari math in Prayagraj Monday.
Police said they found a seven-page ‘suicide note’ in which the mahant has held his disciple and yoga guru, Anand Giri, besides two others, responsible for his death. UP DGP Mukul Goel said the note would be sent for forensic examination.
Additional Director General (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said a team of the UP Police has been sent to Haridwar, where Anand Giri has been detained.
Kumar said that on Monday, around 5.20 pm, one of Giri’s followers called police and informed them that the mahant had hung himself from a fan in his room at Baghambari math, where he stayed. The disciple told police that they cut the rope and brought the body down.
It was in 2016 that Giri first took over as chief of the Akhara Parishad. It was during his tenure that the Parishad released a list of allegedly “fake saints”. In 2019, Giri was elected chief of the Parishad for a second time.
In April this year, Giri had tested positive for Covid-19.
For the past few months, the mahant had been involved in a public tussle with Anand Giri, with both sides accusing each other of, among other things, misappropriation of funds.
Giri is said to have got Anand Giri expelled from the Niranjani akhara following allegations that he went against the traditions of the akhara by keeping in touch with his family. While Anand Giri also accused his guru of financial irregularities, he is said to have later apologised.
In a statement to the media, Anand Giri denied any misunderstanding between him and Giri and called the mahant’s death a conspiracy hatched by those who had allegedly misappropriated math funds.
The mahant has in the past been vocal on political and religious issues.
Last year, a year after the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya title suit, a meeting of the Akhara Parishad, chaired by Giri, had passed a resolution saying they would initiate a campaign on the lines of Ram Janmabhoomi movement to “free the Hindu temples” in Varanasi and Mathura.
Recently, Giri had also demanded the inclusion of the Akhara Parishad in the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and former CM Akhilesh Yadav expressed their condolences at Giri’s death.
“The death of Akhara Parishad president Shri Narendra Giri ji is extremely sad. Being devoted to spiritual traditions, he played a major role in connecting many streams of Sant Samaj together. May the Lord give him a place at your feet. Om shanti,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
In an statement, Adityanath called the mahant’s death “an irreparable loss for the spiritual world”.
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