Who Is Sakar Vishwa Hari Aka Bhole Baba? Stampede In Self-Styled Godman's 'Satsang' In Hathras Claims Over 116 Lives

Who Is Sakar Vishwa Hari Aka Bhole Baba? Stampede In Self-Styled Godman's 'Satsang' In Hathras Claims Over 116 Lives

According to local people, Suraj Pal, or Bhole Baba, as he is called by his followers, hails from Bahadur Nagar in the Patiyali area of Kasganj district. He left his job in the state police 17 years ago to become a preacher.

Rahul MUpdated: Wednesday, July 03, 2024, 05:38 AM IST
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Vishwa Hari Bhole Baba | X

Religious preacher Vishwa Hari Bhole Baba, whose 'satsang' (religious congregation) in UP's Hathras on Tuesday ended in tragedy when 116 people, including women and children, perished in a stampede, is no stranger to controversy.

According to local people, Suraj Pal, or Bhole Baba, as he is called by his followers, hails from Bahadur Nagar in the Patiyali area of Kasganj district. He left his job in the state police 17 years ago to become a preacher. 

While his following extends beyond UP to Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, both the preacher and his acolytes maintain a distance from the media.

According to a devotee, Bhole Baba had no religious mentor and soon after he took voluntary retirement from service, he had a 'vision' of the deity and since then he became inclined to spiritual pursuits. He used to hold his 'satsangs' every Tuesday and before Hathras, he held a similar event in Mainpuri district last week.

He courted controversy during the Covid pandemic period when he sought permission for a satsang in Farrukhabad district in May 2022 to be attended by only 50 people. However, the congregation grew to over 50,000, causing a major headache for the local administration.

As per reports, the stampede in the Hathras event on Tuesday broke out as servitors of Bhole Baba stopped people from leaving the venue amid the heat and humidity, so that the preacher and his retinue could leave first. As permission was given to people to leave, chaos broke out, leading to the stampede.

Over 100 people were killed and several others injured in the stampede. The incident occurred at a 'satsang' event in Pulrai village where people had gathered in large numbers, officials said.

Amidst his reply to a two-day debate on the motion of thanks on the President's address to both Houses of Parliament, PM Modi condoled the deaths.

"In the midst of discussions, I have also been given sad news. It has come to my attention that there have been many tragic deaths in the stampede in Hathras, UP," PM Modi said in Lok Sabha.

"I express my condolences to those who lost their lives in this incident. I hope for the speedy recovery of all the injured," he said.

The prime minister said senior officials of the central government are in constant contact with the Uttar Pradesh administration to coordinate aid efforts.

"Through this forum, I assure everyone that all possible assistance will be provided to the victims," he said.

The PM Office (PMO) announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund for the next of kin of each deceased in the mishap in Hathras.

"The injured would be given Rs 50,000," the PMO said in a post on X.

Senior officials reported that among the deceased were 23 women, three children and a man. Reports from the scene indicated that victims, either deceased or unconscious, were transported to medical facilities in Sikandara Rao.

Hathras MP Anoop Pradhan told media outside Parliament that this is an extremely unfortunate incident.

"I have spoken with our district officer, the district's legislator and the superintendent of police. There is no exact figure yet, but many people have tragically died and many others are injured. They are being treated in nearby hospitals," Pradhan said.

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