Named in 34 cases, Sakshi Maharaj claims to be a saint

LUCKNOW: With 34 criminal cases registered against him, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Sakshi Maharaj claims that he is a saint and curse will befall all those who do not vote for him.

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“A saint has come to your door. When a saint comes to beg and is not given what he asks for, he takes away all the happiness of the family and in turn curseS the family.

“This I am not saying, but I am quoting from sacred scriptures. I am not asking for money or land. Those who do not vote for me will face divine displeasure,” he said on Friday while addressing an election meeting in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.

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A look at the affidavit filed with his nomination papers gave a detailed account of criminal cases registered against him. The list makes him look less of a saint and more of a criminal.

According to his own admission, Sakshi Maharaj has cases ranging from promoting enmity, four cases related to criminal intimidation, robbery, dacoity, murder, forgery, cheating and criminal breach of trust.

Though he has not been convicted, there are eight cases where cognizance has been taken. These cases are registered in Uttar Pradesh’s Faizabad, Etah and in Delhi.

Swami Sachidanand Hari, better known as Sakshi Maharaj, has a large following in Etah, where he hails from. He also runs a large network of ashrams and schools across the state and is extremely popular among his disciples.

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He began his political career in the 1990s with the BJP and was elected to the Lok Sabha twice from Farukkhabad. He switched over to the Samajwadi Party and then joined former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh’s Rashtriya Kranti Party before finally moved back to the BJP.

In 2000, a college principal in Etah filed a police complaint against him, accusing the BJP MP and two of his nephews of gang raping her. The woman and her male associate were allegedly assaulted by the self-proclaimed godman when they were driving to Agra from Etah.

Sakshi Maharaj had to spend a month in Tihar Jail on rape charges but was eventually let off.

Ten years ago, however, another rape complaint was filed against him in Farukkhabad, by a disciple of his ashram. The woman is from Mainpuri and still maintains that Sakshi Maharaj had taken advantage of her and raped her in the ashram.

When the case reached the court, however, the police filed a report saying there was no rape.

Sakshi Maharaj said on Saturday that his rivals were trying to defame him and his statement on Friday had been quoted out of context.

He claimed that the cases filed against him were a result of political rivalry and would not stand the legal battle.

In the past, he has made controversial statements saying that “madrasas were training ground for terrorism” and “Nathuram Godse was a patriot”. He also asked Hindus to increase their population by producing four children each.

Sakshi Maharaj has been fielded against the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance candidate Arun Shankar Shukla, alias Anna Maharaj, and Congress candidate Annu Tandon.

Unnao will go to polls on April 29 in the fourth phase.


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