Mahant’s death: CBI team returns from Haridwar with Anand Giri’s laptop, mobile

A team of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials returned to Prayagraj on Thursday afternoon after seizing the laptop, mobile phone and several documents from Haridwar-based ashram of Anand Giri—one of the accused in the death of Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad president Narendra Giri.

Mahant Narendra Giri’s body was found hanging in his room at the Baghambari Gaddi Math in Prayagraj on September 20 evening. Later, the UP government recommended a CBI probe and the central government issued a notification.

After arriving in Anand ashram situated in Gazivali, Shyampur area of Haridwar on Wednesday evening, the seven-member CBI team interrogated nearly a dozen ashramites, close aides of Anand Giri, some property dealers and seers. Giri was grilled for almost five hours by the CBI team at the ashram. He was taken to Haridwar by CBI officials for recovery of his laptop and mobile.

Senior superintendent of police, Haridwar, Yogendra Singh Rawat said though the CBI team had arrived, he could not divulge or say anything as the case was being handled by the central agency.

“CBI questioned separately the ashramites and other people associated with Anand Giri. They had sought police deployment which was provided and nothing related with probe or seizure by the CBI team was shared with local police,” a local intelligence police personnel said in Haridwar on condition of anonymity.

The CBI team refrained from talking to media in Haridwar and even directed Anand Giri not to say anything to media while he was being taken in the car.

The CBI team also asked local (Haridwar) police to check the Digital Video Recording (DVR) of the ashram’s CCTV which had gone missing from the ashram and provide it to them as soon as it was recovered. Police officials said they were looking for the missing DVR from the ashram, which was sealed for the past one week by Haridwar-Roorkee Development Authority, for it being unauthorised, and enquiring from ashramites in this regard.

Officials are focusing on establishing the allegations made by Mahant Narendra Giri in his purported suicide note in which he had mentioned that Anand Giri might release a morphed obscene video of him to defame him.

The CBI will now scan the laptop and the mobile phone of Anand Giri to search for any morphed obscene video or photograph which could have been used for defaming Mahant Narendra Giri. The officials will also take help of CFSL experts to recover the deleted or formatted data from these gadgets.

The CBI investigations are based on abetment of suicide case lodged against Anand Giri, Aadya Tiwari and his son Sandeep. Mahant Narendra Giri in his purported suicide note alleged that he was taking the extreme step following harassment by the trio. On September 24, a senior CBI official had confirmed that a case of abetment of suicide under Indian Penal Code section 306 was registered in connection with the Mahant’s death by the special crime branch of CBI’s Delhi unit.

Moreover, the CBI probe also revolves around the possibility of any foul play behind Mahant Narendra Giri’s death. Akhada Parishad has earlier rejected the suicide angle while claiming that suicide note found in Mahant’s room was forged.

The CBI investigation recently revealed that CCTV cameras at Baghambari Gaddi Math were not functioning at the time of the incident. The Math authorities had claimed that power was disrupted during that period of time following which the cameras went defunct. However, further probe revealed that although there was power disruption for about 42 minutes, the Math was equipped with a four-kilowatt inverter and a 63 KVA generator.

As per the arrangements made many years back, the inverter started functioning soon in case of power disruption while generator was also started after a few minutes. CBI officials are now investigating if inverter and generator connections were made with the CCTV cameras.

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