Investigations into the 'mysterious' death of Akhara Parishad chief Mahant Narendra Giri are slowly opening up a can of worms that also reveal the ugly underbelly of the religious destinations.
In a 'suicide' note, parts of which are almost illegible, the Mahant had stated that he was being blackmailed by Anand Giri who had morphed his photograph with a girl.
The seer said that he had received information that Anand Giri had morphed the photograph on his computer and preparing to release it in the public domain soon.
"Anand even asked me that once these allegations spread, how many people will you prove your innocence to? I have lived a life of dignity and I cannot live with the humiliation that I will be subjected to" Narendra Giri had said in the suicide note, which was found in Bhagambari Mutt.
Top police officials, however, are denying this angle that could have led to the mysterious death of the seer.
Anand Giri has now been arrested for abetment of suicide and is being interrogated.
Two others named in the suicide note- Adya Tiwari and his son Sandeep Tiwari- are also in police custody.
Additional DG (Prayagraj zone) Prem Prakash has formed an 18-member SIT to conduct investigations into Giri's death.
However, seers in Prayagraj and Haridwar now alleged that his death was the result of a "conspiracy" by those who were angry with him over a series of controversial decisions he had made as Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP) chief.
"It is unlikely that there are just one or two people behind his death. There are many who were upset by decisions he made since he took over as Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad head in 2016," said a seer.
In 2017, Narendra Giri had come out with a list of fake ascetics, angering many.
"Such hypocrite babas should be put in prison. Their assets must be investigated," he had said.
The development had sent ripples within the sadhu community across the country. He had announced another list with the names of more fake sadhus two months later, in December.
In 2019, Narendra Giri was accused in connection with the murder of Ashish Giri, secretary of Panchayati Akhara at Daryaganj (Allahabad), over a property dispute.
Ashish was found dead in mysterious circumstances and later, police investigations gave a clean chit to Narendra Giri.
Narendra Giri had also angered a section of seers during Kumbh 2021 when he refused to give ABAP recognition to the transgender Akhara, introduced for the first time in the festival.
"Giri had many differences with many people. The blackmail theory cannot be disregarded. Apart from Anand Giri, there are many influential people behind this which needs to be investigated," said a disciple at the Baghambari Mutt.