Sitaution normal in Kendrapara after of arrest of 'godman'

The situation at Kendrapara returned to normalcy on Saturday, a day after the people and police were locked in a pitched battle on the issue of arrest of the self styled godman Srimad Sarathi Dev.

Kendrapara: The situation at Kendrapara returned to normalcy on Saturday, a day after the people and police were locked in a pitched battle on the issue of arrest of the self styled godman Srimad Sarathi Dev.

"The situation in Kendrapara is normal. The local people are cooperating with the police," said Nitinjit Singh, the new SP who replaced Satish Kumar Gajviey.

With the improvement in situation, prohibitory orders under Section 144 Cr PC was lifted today from the township and adjoining areas, a district administration official said.

Deathly silence prevailed at the godman's residence 'Sarathi Ashram' at Barimula village as devotees and followers, deserted it. The 'godman' was was today arrested by Odisha police on cheating and other charges following violent protests demanding action against him for his alleged escapades.

Gun-totting policemen were seen guarding the locked ashram instead.

"Sarathi has paid the price for his evil deeds. He betrayed people," said Parikhit Patra, an elder of neighbouring Nikirai village.

Sarathi, who is now behind the bars, has during interrogations flatly denied any sexual escapades as was alleged in a section of the media, crime branch investigators said.

Police said six bank accounts of the self-styled godman which have deposits of over Rs 12 lakh have been traced.

"We are on the lookout of a chartered accountant who was privy to all financial transactions and dealings of the godman. The CA, who is from Kendrapara township, had fled from the ashram before our investigation began yesterday noon," police said.

Sarathi had a network of agents who wooed people with stories of alleged miracles by him and his magical powers. Besides, over 50 people were engaged in various work at the ashram and were paid monthly salary, the investigators said.

Odisha had witnessed agitation by people since Wednesday demanding arrest of Sarathi after a private TV channel showed a picture of the self-styled godman and accused him of spending two days with a woman in a Hyderabad hotel.

It was also alleged that the woman accompanying him to Hyderabad was shown as his wife in the hotel record.

Meanwhile, opposition Congress in Bhubaneswar accused BJD leaders of having an "unholy nexus" with Sarathi and demanded a CBI probe into the entire episode.

"We demand a CBI probe as the ruling party leaders and MLAs were close to the fake godman. One of the former BJD MLAs, who presently functions as the ruling party spokesman, has donated money to Sarathi from his MLA development fund," said Congress spokesman Ganeswar Behera.

A former BJD legislator from Kendrapara district had given Rs 3 lakh in 2010-11, Rs 8 lakh in 2012-13 and Rs 4 lakh in 2013-14 from the MLA's local area development fund to Sarathi Dev's ashram, said Aul Congress MLA Debendra Sharma.

Besides, the BJD government had also given Rs one lakh to Sarathi's ashram from the state's special fund being managed by the Planning and Coordination department, Behera claimed.

"A sitting BJD MLA had also written to Odisha Tourism department to accord tourist destination status to Sarathi's ashram," he said.

Dubbing Sarathi Dev as the "BJD Baba", the Congress spokesman alleged that the ruling party used to promote the "fake" godman and provided protection to him through police.

"We also demand suspension of Satish Kumar Gajviey as he acted on behalf of the godman and humiliated protestors on the streets," Behera said.

Congress also announced its support to All Odisha Lawyers` Association's agitation on August 10 in protests against the violence in Kendrapara yesterday.

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