No one to be spared in Sarathi baba case: Odisha government

Bhubaneswar, Aug 24 (IANS) As the Odisha assembly debated the Sarathi baba issue, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh on Monday said no one involved in the case would be spared.

Replying on behalf of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to an adjournment motion moved by the opposition over the Sarathi baba issue, Arukh told the assembly that the government shielded no one and action was being taken against all involved in the issue.

Crime Branch has arrested self styled godman Sarathi baba for cheating and other charges and booked him under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 420 (cheating), 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) and 341 (wrongful restraint), as well under the arms act and SC/ST act. He was arrested following a statewide outcry against the baba, who had spent three-days with a girl in a star hotel in Hyderabad in July this year.

He runs an Ashram in Kendrapada district and has amassed huge movable and immovable properties, which have been seized by the Crime Branch.

Opposition parties are alleging that several ruling Biju Janata Dal leaders have encouraged the godman to grow in the area.

Arukh said action had already been taken against the former Kendrapara Superintendent of Police, who has been suspended and vigilance investigations have been launched into the properties acquired by his wife.

He also said that disciplinary proceedings were being initiated against the IPS officer.

Satish Gajbhiye, former Kendrapada SP, has been suspended for police high handedness during protests by people demanding the arrest of Sarathi baba in the district on August 7. After his suspension, reports came out that he has acquired several acres of land in Gop block in Puri district in the name of his wife. The local people alleged that their land has been encroached upon by the IPS officer.

The vigilance department is inquiring into his land dealings.

Refuting allegations that only ruling party members visited the ashram of Sarathi, the minister said leaders of all political parties used to visit the Baba.

The Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party members, however, came down heavily on the government over the issue.

Congress member Anshuman Mohanty and BJP legislature party leader Basant Panda demanded a CBI probe into the matter.

“Since reports came in that Sarathi has amassed huge property and has links with chit fund scamsters, there should be a CBI inquiry into the issue,” Panda told mediapersons.

Leader of the opposition Narasingh Mishra asked why the chief minister could not come under Crime Branch purview for allocating funds to the organisation of the baba? “Why no inquiry on chit fund angle against Sarathi?”

The Congress members later staged a walkout on being dissatisfied with the government’s reply.

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