Constable to godman: The rise and fall of Bhole Baba

Suraj Pal Singh better known as Bhole Baba, is at large following a tragic stampede in Hathras

Suraj Pal Singh better known as Bhole Baba (photo: @askanshul/x)
Suraj Pal Singh better known as Bhole Baba (photo: @askanshul/x)

NH Digital

The quiet village of Bahadur Nagar in Kasganj district, Uttar Pradesh, has been thrust into the spotlight following a tragic stampede at a religious event organised by Suraj Pal Singh, also known as Bhole Baba in Hathras on 2 July.

The catastrophe, which resulted in the deaths of 121 people, has brought intense scrutiny to Singh's life—a journey from a police constable to a self-styled godman commanding a vast following..

A report in the Indian Express said Suraj Pal Singh, 58, hails from a Dalit family in Bahadur Nagar, approximately 65 km from Hathras. Before adopting the name Narayan Sakar Vishwa Hari or Bhole Baba, Singh served as a constable in the Uttar Pradesh Police.

"After serving in the police force for about a decade, he left the job... His last posting was in Agra," said a police officer who visited Singh’s village after the incident. Singh reportedly left the police force sometime in the 1990s. Following his departure, he embraced a spiritual identity, adopting the moniker Bhole Baba, while his wife became known as Matashree.

According to Zaffar Ali, the husband of Bahadur Nagar village pradhan Najis Khanam, Singh’s family was well-off. He was the second of three brothers, with his elder brother having passed away a few years ago and his younger brother, Rakesh, continuing to live in the village as a farmer.

Despite his significant influence, little is known about Singh's life, which he kept closely guarded. His transformation from a constable to a revered figure remains shrouded in mystery.

Singh is believed to be residing at his ashram in Mainpuri, about 100 km from Phulrai village, where the fatal event took place. The stampede occurred during a satsang organised by Singh, which saw an overwhelming attendance of over 2.5 lakh devotees, far exceeding the permitted 80,000.

"Due to the uncontrollable crowd leaving the venue, devotees sitting on the ground were crushed. On the other side of the road, the crowd running in the water and mud-filled fields was forcibly stopped by the organising committee with sticks, due to which the pressure of the crowd kept increasing and women, children, and men kept getting crushed," the FIR detailed.

Efforts by the police and administrative officials to manage the situation and transport the injured to hospitals were reportedly hampered by a lack of cooperation from the organisers.

Newspaper reports said a case has been filed against the satsang organisers, and they face charges under sections 105, 110, 126 (2), 223, and 238 of the new criminal code, Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS).

Bhole Baba commands a considerable following across parts of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. Despite his large following, information about his personal life is sparse and meticulously controlled.

News reports said Singh lacked an official social media presence, yet platforms like Facebook and YouTube are rife with content showcasing his preaching, announcements of upcoming congregations, and tributes to his supposed divine powers.

According to NDTV, along with his wife, Singh regularly conducts 'satsangs', with the "Manav Mangal Milan Sadbhavna Samagam" being among the most popular. His discourses often emphasise themes of humanity, brotherhood, respect for all living beings, and non-violence. He claims that all donations received at his events are distributed among his followers.

Singh was known to identify himself as a disciple of Hari, asserting in his speeches that he is the master of the entire universe. Even Brahma, Vishnu, and Shankar acknowledge him as their guru.

For his devotees, Bhole Baba is not just a spiritual leader but a divine figure, reports said adding that his followers continuously produced content glorifying him and his activities, portraying him as omniscient and benevolent.

The 2 July tragedy however has ignited social media outrage, with many demanding strict action against Singh. Acting DGP Prashant Kumar was quoted by NDTV confirming that the police are investigating all angles of the incident.

As the investigation unfolds, the enigmatic life of Bhole Baba continues to be a subject of public intrigue and scrutiny.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines