New Delhi: The Delhi Police Saturday registered a case against a self-styled godman, Daati Maharaj, and his accomplices for allegedly holding a religious gathering and violating government guidelines on Covid-19 lockdown.
The gathering held at Shani Dham temple in south Delhi’s Mehrauli area Friday was attended by over 30 people, most of whom were not wearing masks.
As pictures and videos of the gathering started circulating, some of which were posted on social media by the participants, Delhi Police took suo-motu cognisance and registered a case against Maharaj. He has not yet been arrested.
“Some photographs of a ceremony at Shani Dham mandir Asola were circulated on social media, wherein the social distancing norms were not being followed and a religious congregation was organised in contravention of the lockdown guidelines,” Atul Thakur, Deputy Commissioner of Police, South Delhi, told ThePrint.
“The godman opened the temple and by doing that he has committed offences under sections of IPC, Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act. A case has been registered and investigation initiated,” he added.
Preliminary enquiry in the matter has revealed that Maharaj gave a call saying the gathering will be held from 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm Friday, the Delhi Police confirmed.
This is not Daati Maharaj’s first brush with the law. He is also an accused in a case of rape and unnatural sex.
In 2016, he was booked for allegedly raping a 25-year-old woman. A case in the matter was registered in 2018 and was then transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Along with two others, he was charge-sheeted in the case. Maharaj is currently out on bail.
In December 2019, the rape survivor had approached the Delhi High Court seeking intervention to expedite the case. She also asked the court to order CBI to file a status report in the case.
Daati Maharaj seen cutting a cake, posing for photos
In the photos of Friday’s gathering available with the police, Daati Maharaj is seen cutting a cake and posing for photographs.
A video also shows many people singing bhajans, and sitting in close proximity with each other, with most of them not even wearing any masks.
“We are verifying if all those photos are from the same event or not. We have taken all videos that were shot inside the temple while the event was on along with the photos clicked in the open where people are seen lighting mashals (torch) before the God’s idol,” said a second police officer who didn’t wish to be named.
“We have initiated an inquiry and are investigating the matter.”
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