Eight months after self-styled spiritual leader Bhaiyyuji Maharaj committed suicide by shooting himself in the head at his residence on June 12, 2018, the arrests of Vinayak Dhule, Sharad Deshmukh and a woman named Palak Puranik (25) for abetment of suicide by the Indore police has brought a tragic story behind Bhaiyyuji’s demise to light which has given a new direction to the investigations. A detailed chat between Afternoon Voice Editor and Amar Shedge, nephew of Bhaiyyuji Maharaj reveals the mystery behind the unfortunate occurrence in detail.
All three accused have been charged under Section 306 of the IPC which concerns abetment of suicide, Section 120B of IPC which deals with conspiracy and Section 384. The police have also revealed that he was being blackmailed by the arrested woman disciple with a rape complaint and the woman was putting pressure on him to tie the knot with her. She had threatened him to file a police complaint to defame him if he didn’t give in to her demand. The court has sent the all three accused to the judicial custody after they were produced before the Magistrate’s court on Friday.
As per the information received, while Palak Puranik used to work with Bhaiyyuji as his personal secretary, Vinayak Dudhade and Sharad Deshmukh were his close aides. Vinayak was also made the caretaker of Bhayyuji’s properties in his will, Sharad is a driver.
“Bhaiyyuji would write a lot whenever in stress. The diary which was seized by the police was very old and the suicide note is probably written much before his death,” Amar Shedge told to the Editor.
“In his last days, Bhaiyyuji was trying to maintain a distance from Vinayak. However, he was the one who was in charge of Bhaiyyuji’s phone and many other things. Vinayak used to look after Bhaiyyuji’s parents and he completely relied on Vinayak for the same. Bhaiyyuji wouldn’t leave his parents with anyone else except Vinayak,” Shedge added.
When asked about what hampered the relationship between Bhaiyyuji and Vinayak, Shedge asserted, “Vinayak and Ayushi Sharma (Bhaiyyuji Maharaj’s second wife) were not in good terms as Vinayak was never in favour of Bhaiyyuji’s second marriage. Palak had been recruited in Bhaiyyuji’s ashram with full-proof planning by Vinayak. Bhaiyyuji used to say that Palak resembles with Kuhu (Bhaiyyuji’s daughter from the first wife). Vinayak was in a relationship with Palak and she has now admitted that they used to give extra doses of sleeping pills or seductive medicines to Bhaiyyuji, who blindly trusted them and used to consume it. Following that, the accused have also admitted that they used to sedate him and made videos. Bhaiyyuji would hardly use the Mobile phone. Vinayak admitted that he used Bhaiyyuji’s cell phone and sent messages to Palak; later, he used to delete the messages from Bhaiyyuji’s phone, however, asked Palak to save those explicit messages.”
As per the Police department sources, the three accused had asked Bhaiyyuji to marry the woman by June 16 but the spiritual leader committed suicide on June 12. Police says the plan was made by the accused hoping to get a share in Bhaiyyuji’s properties. Moreover, Ayushi Sharma met senior police officials in Indore last week and handed some important documents associated with the case.
BJP MP Dr. Virendra Kumar stated, “Bhaiyyuji Maharaj was a great sant and everyone had huge respect for him. Those who have compelled him to commit suicide, a strict action must be taken against them. At such a young age, he had won many hearts with his works and his untimely death was saddening for the society.”
Bhaiyyuji’s nephew also threw light on how Vinayak tried to mislead the police by promoting clashes between Kuhu and Ayushi which according to the source was ‘very nominal’. He stated, “Vinayak and Palak never wanted Bhaiyyuji to marry Ayushi Sharma and they were plotting to force him to marry Palak to get a hold on the power and properties.”
Bhayyuji Maharaj was one of the five sants to whom the previous Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh had granted the status of Minister of State (MoS) in April 2018. However, Bhayyuji had refused to accept the post, saying it holds no importance for a sant like him.
Senior journalist and Social activist Abhijeet Rane expressed, “Bhaiyyuji Maharaj was one of my close friends and I believe he was trapped into this as the medicines given to him were harmful. He was a great sant and was also considered a role model for his personality. Usually, the close aides of such prominent personalities have all their personal information and often they start making traps to blackmail for their benefits. After gaining prominence, somewhere a person gets isolated from within. The government must take strict action and continue proper probe against all the accused.”
The 50-year-old had a huge list of followers that included top politicians and celebrities. The note found in Bhayyuji’s room after his death read him being “stressed out”. After the police started investigating the death, a lawyer associated with Bhaiyyuji Maharaj’s trust received a ransom call of Rs 5 crore. Following that the number was monitored and it led to Bhaiyyuji’s driver (appointed by Vinayak), who gave a new direction to this case with his information. Police on the basis of the driver’s statement questioned 125 people from different places and registered official statements of 28 people. These statements and digital evidence helped police arrest the three accused with charges of financial and psychological exploitation of the deceased. The police also claimed that in a few audio clips, Palak was heard plotting to eliminate Ayushi.
“Driver Patil was supposedly working for Vinayak. Probably when Patil didn’t get anything in return, he called up the advocate asking for extortion money. The advocate is a good person and was loyal to Bhaiyyuji. I don’t think there was any political connection with this case. Any malignity on his image was intolerable for him. Even though he tried to confide to his closed ones that he was in stress, Vinayak would never leave him alone,” Shedge unfolded.
Shiv Sena MLA Sunil Shinde said, “Bhaiyyuji Maharaj was a spiritual leader and whenever he used to visit Bombay, he used to meet me and guide me with his knowledge on many work aspects. He was associated with many political leaders and had good relations with all the political parties. The society suffered a huge loss with the death of Bhaiyyuji Maharaj. Whoever has blackmailed and provoked him to commit suicide should not be spared.”
Bhaiyyuji Maharaj was born as Uday Singh Deshmukh in a family of landowner agriculturists and worked in the past as a professional model. His first wife died in 2015 and he married Dr. Ayushi, who was also his disciple, in 2017, and with whom he has a daughter named Dhara.
Raytecha Raja Sanghatna President Shradhanand D Adav said, “Bhaiyyuji Maharaj was a spiritual leader and also had played a vital role in the various social cause for different caste and creed. People from various levels of the society followed him and he was a role model for the youth. The anti-social people always kill good people and our government should try to punish these cold-blooded murderers. The suicide of such a prominent personality is very harmful to the society especially, when that leader always tried to unite the society.”