Prayagraj: Mahant Narendra Giri, head of the Baghambari Mutt in Prayagraj who was found dead Monday, had initially planned to kill himself by consuming sulphas tablets, police sources told ThePrint, citing fresh findings in the investigation.
Sulphas is an agricultural fumigant that is reportedly easily available.
Giri, who is believed to have committed suicide, purchased the tablets last week but dropped the idea, the sources said. He instead ordered a rope, saying he wanted it to dry his clothes, and allegedly used it to hang himself.
The seer was the president of the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP), one of the most prominent groups of Hindu seers in India. He allegedly left behind a note naming some people, including a once-close disciple, as responsible for his decision, but the motive for his alleged suicide is currently under investigation.
While a seer who worked with Giri told ThePrint that the latter didn’t know how to write, the police sources claimed he wasn’t illiterate.
Police sources said Giri had also recorded a video suicide note just before his death, adding that it echoed the contents of the letter.
According to sources in Prayagraj police, Giri’s autopsy was conducted Wednesday by a team of five doctors. The team’s preliminary report, the sources said, concluded that he died of “asphyxia”, or a state of being unable to breathe.
The preliminary report, they added, also says Giri died between 3 pm and 3.30 pm and had no external injuries apart from a lesion on the neck caused due to the rope that he allegedly used.
“From the initial findings in the postmortem, it appears to be a case of suicide and not murder. There were no injuries on his body. Moreover, he had himself ordered the rope that was used in the hanging,” said a police officer. “We have also seized the sulphas tablets that he had earlier planned to consume.”
A suicide video
Police sources said the video suicide note, allegedly recovered on the mahant’s phone, was recorded just about an hour before he is believed to have hanged himself.
In the video, shot on selfie mode, the mahant held his disciple Anand Giri, Adhya Tiwari, pujari of the akhara’s Hanuman temple, and his son Sandeep Tiwari responsible for his decision. The same people were named in the alleged written suicide note.
According to the sources, Giri had asked one of his disciples to teach him how to record a video just a day before, on 19 September.
“It is a short video. Besides the note, this is also evidence. When we questioned the residents of the mutt, one of his disciples told us that the mahant had asked him to teach him how to record a video as he did not know how to operate the phone,” said a second police officer.
“He had also practised recording a few videos, before he finally recorded his suicide note, just minutes before he hanged himself,” the officer added.
“The video has been recorded in the same room, on the same day, around 2 pm,” the officer said. “We have given the phone for forensic analysis.”
‘He could read and write’
Other seers at the mutt have questioned the written suicide note found in Giri’s room, saying he could only sign his name and didn’t know how to write.
Speaking to ThePrint, Ravindra Puri, adhyaksh (president) of the Niranjan Akhara, one of the constituent organisations of the ABAP, said Giri did not know how to write even a word. The signature on the alleged suicide note, he added, differs from his original signature in the mutt’s register.
“This suicide letter is a fake and must be investigated. He did not know how to write and only knew how to sign. He was not educated. Whoever has written it must be at least a graduate. This needs to be investigated. Even the signature on that letter is different from Giri’s signature,” he said.
The police sources, however, denied the claim.
“Initial investigation has revealed that Giri could read and write and had also studied till Class 9. One of his family members has claimed that he could not complete his Class 10 but could easily read and write. We are trying to ascertain his claims,” the second officer said.
“Moreover, Giri had also written a letter earlier, which we have seized and have shared with the forensics experts who are ascertaining the veracity of the letter.”
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)