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Who is 'Bhole Baba', self-styled godman whose Hathras satsang witnessed a stampede?

The congregation was organised by Manav Mangal Milan Sadbhavana Samagam Committee and was being led by a spiritual leader who is known as Bhole Baba aka Narayan Sakar Hari in Hathras’ Phulrai Mugalgadhi village. The stampede apparently occurred due to overcrowding, Sikandra Rao police station SHO Ashish Kumar also said earlier in the day while speaking to media outlets.

Who is 'Bhole Baba', self-styled godman whose Hathras satsang witnessed a stampede? gcw
First Published Jul 3, 2024, 8:43 AM IST

Over 116 people died and several others were injured in a stampede at a spiritual congregation in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras on Tuesday. The Manav Mangal Milan Sadbhavana Samagam Committee planned the meeting, which was being conducted by a spiritual guide from Hathras' Phulrai Mugalgadhi village named Bhole Baba, also known as Narayan Sakar Hari.

The police are on the lookout for Bhole Baba, who has not been found after the stampede incident. Upon learning of the stampede, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed officials to promptly reach the site and provide relief efforts.

Bhole Baba hails from Bahadur village in the Patiali tehsil of Etah district. He claims to be a former employee of the Intelligence Bureau (IB).

He allegedly left his government job 26 years ago to begin delivering religious sermons. Today, he has millions of followers across India, including in western Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Delhi.

Notably, Bhole Baba does not have an official account on any social media site, in contrast to many contemporary religious icons. According to his supporters, he has a significant grassroots effect.

Every Tuesday, Bhole Baba hosts programmes in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, which attract thousands of people. During these gatherings, volunteers ensure the necessary arrangements for devotees, including food and drinks. Bhole Baba became well-known for drawing sizable audiences in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic's limitations.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences over the loss of lives in the stampede in Hathras and wished speedy recovery to the injured. Modi also spoke with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath following the tragedy.

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