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Arrested 'godman' has several names

By Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
Last updated on: November 12, 2008 20:38 IST
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Much confusion prevails over the identity of a lesser-known Hindu 'godman', who was picked up in connection with the Malegaon blasts by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) from his hideout in Kanpur, about 80 km from Lucknow, on Wednesday .

While the court order issued for his arrest by the chief judicial magistrate of  Nasik names him as Dayanand Pandey, his interrogation by ATS sleuths revealed that his real name was Sudhakar Dwivedi.

However, as the head of the Jammu-based  Sharda Sarvagya Peeth , he was better known as Swami Amritanand. According to ATS sources, "the 36-year-old seer originally hails from Varanasi which he left several years ago."

"He was identified in officials records as Dayanand Pandey because a SIM card used by him was issued in that name," said a senior police officer.

Armed with an order of the chief judicial magistrate of Nashik, the Maharashtra ATS nabbed Pandey from the residence of his lawyer brother Pushkar Dwivedi in Rawatpur locality of Kanpur. Their father Uday Dhar Dwivedi is a retired sub-inspector of police and also lives in the Kanpur house from where he was arrested.

Later in the afternoon , he was brought to Lucknow, where he was being questioned by a joint ATS team of the two states.

A  two-member ATS team headed by assistant commissioner of police Mohan Kulkarni had arrived from Mumbai on Tuesday evening . They were understood to be keeping a track on Pandey, who was allegedly connected with Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, suspected mastermind of the September blasts in Malegaon.

Sudhakar was stated to have taken to spirituality many years ago was formally given 'deeksha' (ordained as a saint) 14 years ago in 1994. He was elevated as head of the Jammu-based Hindu monastery in 2003.

"We should be able to get greater details of his antecedents once ATS sleuths have completed his interrogation," UP additional director general of police Brij Lal told mediapersons. "The Nasik court order entitles the Maharastra ATS to question and interogate him for the purposes of the Malegaon blasts , and the UP ATS has been asked to provide all assistance to them", Lal said.

He was accused under Sections 16,18 and 23 of Prevention of Unlawful activities Act, Section 345 of Explosives act and sections 302, 307, 326, 324, 427, 153 A/ 120 B of IPC, he said.

Since Maharashtra ATS would need to take Sudhakar to Mumbai, he would have to be produced before a UP court for securing a transit remand.

Meanwhile, even as word spread that the arrested Godman had close nexus with the Bajrang Dal, the outfit promptly refuted it.

"He does not even have a remote link with us", Bajrang Dal national convenor Prakash Sharma said in a statement.  

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Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow