Spiritual leader Bhayyu Maharaj, who had refused to accept ministerial rank granted by the Madhya Pradesh government over two months ago, allegedly committed suicide on Tuesday. He shot himself in the head with a revolver at his Indore residence.
"He shot himself on his right temple in a room bolted from inside. We had to break the door to bring him out. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was declared brought dead," a police officer told PTI. The exact cause behind his death would be known after a detailed investigation, the official said.
Bhayyu's body was taken to the state-run MY Hospital for post-mortem and it will be kept at the Bombay Hospital on Tuesday night.
The spiritual leader's last rites will be held in Indore from 10 am to 12 pm on Wednesday, Bhayyuji's close aide and former head of his ashram Sharad Pawar alias Mausa ji said.
The spiritual leader is survived by his second wife Ayushi Sharma, who he had married in April 2017, and a daughter from his first wife Madhavi. Madhavi had passed away in November 2015.
As the reports about the incident spread, a large number of his supporters gathered in front of Bombay Hospital where the 50-year-old spiritual leader was admitted after the shooting incident. Bhayyu is very popular in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh because of his spiritual and social works. The spiritual leader also enjoyed a large following among politicians and celebrities. Several Maharashtra leaders, including Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, former chief minister late Vilasrao Deshmukh and former president Pratibha Patil have been known to visit the deceased spiritual leader.
Moreover, the high profile spiritual guru had offered juice to Narendra Modi in 2011 to end the then Gujarat chief minister's fast. Modi had invited him to his three-day Sadbhavana Upwas (Goodwill Fast) in September 2011 at Ahmedabad. Bhayyu was also at the forefront when India Against Corruption (IAC) movement, led by Anna Hazare, was at its peak in 2011-12. He was reportedly asked to mediate between the government and Hazare and he even negotiated with the agitators to convince them to break their fast.
Bhayyu, whose original name was Uday Singh Deshmukh, was also one of the five 'saints' to whom the Shivraj Singh government of Madhya Pradesh had granted Minister of State (MoS) rank in April. However, he had refused to accept it saying, "a post holds no importance for a saint". Prior to becoming a spiritual guru, he had done a modelling stint, his disciples said.
Politicians offer condolences
Political leaders cutting across the party lines expressed shock over Bhayyu's death. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was among the first few to offer his tributes to Bhayyuji. "My tribute to saint Bhayyuji Maharaj, The country has lost a person who was a confluence of culture, knowledge & service. Your thoughts will motivate society to follow the path of serving humanity," Chouhan tweeted.
"Learnt about the death of spiritual guru Shri Bhaiyyuji Maharaj. I had a personal relationship with him. His untimely death is saddening. My humble tributes," Union minister Nitin Gadkari tweeted. Fadnavis expressed similar sentiments and hailed the spiritual guru for the "huge work" he did for the deprived in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
Fadnavis said farmers and tribals were at the centre of Bhayyu Maharaj's activities. "Bhayyu Maharaj's work towards land reforms, water conservation, farmers (welfare) and education of children will always be remembered. Tributes to him!
"Am part of mourning of his big family and followers," the chief minister said on Twitter. Hailing Bhayyu Maharaj for carrying forward the legacy of spirituality in Maharashtra, Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said the news of his death was "shocking and unbelievable".
"The untimely death of Bhaiyyuji Maharaj, who was ever smiling, enthusiastic and one giving energy, is saddening. #RIP #BhaiyyujiMaharaj," the Congress leader said on Twitter.
Congress leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan remembered the spiritual leader for his social and political work, which he said was aimed at helping the common people.
"A lot of political people used to meet him. He was a spiritual person, who motivated people to do good. He visited Maharashtra frequently and met a lot of people and was also involved in social work here," Chavan said in his condolence message.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik also expressed grief and observed that the spiritual leader had taken part in several social works in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. "May his soul rest in peace," Malik said on the micro-blogging site.
Madhya Pradesh Congress demands CBI probe
Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh Congress demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the death of Bhayyu, claiming that he was under pressure to work for the BJP government in the state. Talking to PTI, state Congress media department chief Manak Agarwal said, "Bhayyuji Maharaj had refused to accept ministerial rank granted by the Madhya Pradesh government. I had spoken to him some days back and Bhayyuji had told me that he was under pressure from the BJP government to work for them," he said.
Indore police begins investigation
Additional Director General (ADG), Indore Range, Ajay Sharma said that a notepad was found in his room on which he had purportedly written, "Somebody should be there to handle duties of family, I am leaving, too much stressed out, fed up". The people close to the spiritual guru claimed that it was his own handwriting, but the police will verify it through experts. Indore Collector Nishant Warwade said circumstances under which he committed suicide were a matter of investigation.
With inputs from PTI and 101 Reporters
Updated Date: Jun 13, 2018 01:29 AM