Hathras stampede: What is Bhole Baba's net worth? Rs 100 crore assets under scrutiny

Pal’s trust, named the Shri Narayan Hari Sakar Charitable Trust, runs the multi-crore empire of the godman.
Last Updated : 06 July 2024, 10:21 IST

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The godman at the centre of the Hathras stampede tragedy, ex-IPS officer-turned-holy man Suraj Pal aka 'Bhole Baba' or 'Narayan Hari Sakar', is not in the list of accused but his aide has finally been caught. But now questions are emerging about the massive fortune that the godman seems to have amassed. Ironically, most of his followers who flock to his satsangs and ashram hail from unprivileged classes.

The self-styled 'Bhole Baba' apparently has 24 ashrams, a fleet of luxury cars, and assets worth at least Rs 100 crore, as per a report by Hindustan Times.

Pal’s trust, named the Shri Narayan Hari Sakar Charitable Trust, runs the multi-crore empire of the godman. Furthermore, Pal, who faces several criminal cases, apparently lived a lavish lifestyle and was always surrounded by his own ‘private army’ at his ashram as well as during public meetings, like the doomed satsang event in Hathras.

Sources said that the Baba’s 'private army' wore uniforms of different colours and had names like ‘Narayani Sena, Garud Yoddha’ and ‘Hari Vahak’.

Not one for saffron robes, Pal would usually meet devotees dressed in crisp, white three-piece suits, replete with a tie and fashionable sunglasses, per the HT report.

While he himself would travel in a white Toyota Fortuner, its interiors adorned with matching white seat covers, he would also be accompanied by a convoy of cars. Leading the convoy would be a team of 16 bike-borne commandos in black fatigues (usually on Royal Enfield Bullets), ensuring a clear path for the Baba and his entourage of 15 to 30 vehicles.

His Trust’s volunteers (sevadars), dressed in light pink, black or brown — according to whichever 'faction' of Baba's private army they belonged to — would guard the Baba and his convoy. They also made sure that no one took videos or photographs of the Baba, his ashrams or his entourage.

His 'five-star' ashram in Mainpuri, built on land costing Rs 4 crore, and his network of other ashrams, are also part of the godman's net worth, who had a penchant of buying luxury cars for himself in his devotees' names.

According to an NDTV report, one of his guards had donated the Mainpuri land to his trust. The estate he stays in includes six rooms, designated for him and his wife, and is surrounded by his guards' quarters, as per HT.

Mainpuri Ashram in Bichuva is an extensive property, covering 21 bighas of land, and known as "Hari Nagar". At the entrance of the Mainpuri ashram, a board prominently displays the names of 200 donors who have contributed between Rs 10,000 and Rs 2.5 lakh to the ashram trust.

Pal, through his trust, had also taken about 50 bighas of land attached to the ashram on lease as well.

His trust owns 24 ashrams in total, as per reports, and hundreds of bighas of land spanning acres in Kasganj, Agra, Kanpur, and Gwalior.

In Kanpur, he has an ashram spanning over 14 bighas of land in Kasui village with the ashram building itself occupying merely three bighas of the land parcel. According to the villagers, before the Hathras incident, policemen used to receive free tiffin from the ashram. "This was done so that if there was any dispute with the villagers, the police would side with the ashram people," a local named Vishal Kumar told TOI.

In Etawah, Bhole Baba's ashram near Sarai Bhupat railway station was built on 15 bighas of land. "Baba got upset about something, which is why the ashram is why the ashram is lying vacant. It is looked after by a committee of villagers. Funds were collected from the villagers for the construction of this ashram," said a local youth to TOI.

But Pal's first ashram and the beginning of his 'empire' is located in his ancestral village of Bahadur Nagar in Kasganj district. Run by the Hari Charitable Trust, the ashram is build on a 60 bigha land parcel.

Surrounded by high walls, the ashram has guard posts for Baba's security personnel. With a large gate and a red roof, it looks more like fortress than a humble ashram.

Outside, there is a large board that states that taking taking photos and videos inside is prohibited. A statue of Bhole Baba astride 'Garud' stands at the ashram's entrance.

According to the TOI report, Pal had consituted 'Hum Committees', in every district. If someone wanted to organise a satsang, they'd contact the committee in their district and not the Baba directly.

Reportedly, no donations were collected from the general public and it is these committees who would take care of the costs and event organisation once the Baba agreed to a satsang event. Local devotees also help in the local arrangements and for clean up after a satsang.

Bhole Baba left his constable's job in 1999, to start preaching and has mostly poor devotees. But high-ranking officials from UP and neighbouring states also visit the Baba and make donations in private, mostly anonymously as they are government servants.

The NDTV report also states that at one of his ashrams, the notice board mentions that 'Bhole Baba' does not accept any donations. However, donors' names are written all over the ashram walls. Their donations range from 100 bags of cement to vehicles and cash for building the ashrams.

Published 06 July 2024, 10:21 IST

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