Cops ask Bhardwaj family to stay put, steps up search for swami



New Delhi: A day after releasing photographs of a spiritual guru suspected to be involved in the murder of a local BSP leader, investigators on Sunday said they have asked the victim's estranged family not to leave the capital as they still remain under the lens.

Police is also stepping up searches in south India and Maharashtra for Swami Pratimanand, who is suspected to have given money to two alleged shooters, one of whom is his driver Purushottam Rana, to kill Deepak Bhardwaj.

Pratimanand hails from Beed in Maharashtra.

Bhardwaj was shot dead in his farmhouse in south Delhi's Rajokri on March 26 allegedly by Rana and Sunil Mann.

Besides the shooters, police has arrested two more men -- Amit who drove the car in which the shooters fled and Rakesh who owned the vehicle.

Though police is yet to catch the spiritual guru, they have tried to piece together the motive for the murder which they believe is related to a dispute over a farmhouse in Bahadurgarh.

Sources said though they have versions from the alleged shooters that the spiritual guru had hired the shooters, investigators are yet to give a clean chit to the family of Bhardwaj, a clerk who became real estate tycoon with interests in education sector and was the richest candidate of the last Lok Sabha elections.

"We have asked Bhardwaj's family not to leave Delhi, without informing us. The family continues to remain under the scanner," a senior police official said.

On the spiritual guru, the official said he last got in touch with his family last November during Diwali.

"He had come to Delhi and became a Yoga teacher in outer Delhi. In order to ensure that he is not caught, he left Delhi two days before Bhardwaj was killed.

"He stayed in Haridawar between March 25 and 30," the official said, adding when his hiding, he changed his appearance several times.

Pratimanand also met one of his friends Avinash Shastri on March 30 in Indore and he stayed there for four days.

Shastri was questioned but police found out that he has no role in the activities of Pratimanand, sources said.

The sources also said Pratimanand had applied for passport six months ago and the passport verification form was recovered from Haridawar.

During investigations, police also checked his bank accounts but there was not much money.

The sources also said Rana accompanied Pratimanand whenever he used to meet Bhardwaj. Investigators said Pratimanand has changed his mobile phone numbers at least ten times in the past fortnight and he was making calls from public booths.

He is changing his locations, they said.

Police are also planning to approach court to get a non-bailable warrant executed against him besides alerting airports and railway stations through a look out notice.

Investigators are also looking into the role of a sadhvi, who is close to Pratimanand besides four others.

PTI