Four days after he went “missing,” the presiding seer of Bharti Ashram Trust, Mahamandaleshwar Hariharanand, was found from a rural bus stop in Jowar village, Thane, and was brought to the Vadodara Detection of Crime Branch late on Wednesday.
ACP Chauhan briefed mediapersons that the seer had recorded his statement. “He did not want any confrontation over possession of Bharti Ashram in Sarkhej in Ahmedabad. There seems to be some internal dispute but Hariji, in his statement, recorded that having chosen a spiritual path, he did not want to enter into controversy over worldly things,” the police officer answered questions from reporters.
After official formalities, the seer headed to the Trust headquarters in Junagadh.
Hariharanand Swami was appointed president of the Trust by his predecessor Bharti Bapu and therefore the natural custodian of all assets. The ongoing dispute is between him and another seer of their community over possession of the Sarkhej property of the Trust.
Six teams of the Vadodara DCB were at work to track Hariharanand after a CCTV footage of April 30 showed the seer walking towards Tarsali from Kapurai junction in Vadodara, where he had asked one of his disciples to drop him and thereafter went missing.
ACP Chauhan added: “One of the six teams was sent to Junagadh where the original Ashram is, another team went to the Garudeshwar Ashram, where he was recently living and four teams were scanning the area of Vadodara highway towards Maharashtra.”
Call record details of the seer for the past few months were scanned and his movement was traced to places bordering south Gujarat and Maharashtra.
“We also interrogated the bus driver on Tuesday night to gather details on his likely stops. We issued a lookout notice for him in Dahisar, Thane, and Nashik in Maharashtra. The toll naka CCTV gave us valuable leads. So, early morning Wednesday, when his disciple found him in Jowar in Thane, our nearest DCB unit reached the spot and escorted him back to Vadodara,” the ACP said.
Since he went missing, a video of Hariharanand also surfaced, in which he is seen, saying: “There has been so much controversy over the Sarkhej Ashram in Ahmedabad. I am being pressured because the will is in my name. They even forged another will to challenge my standing in the case. They want to spoil my name and have been threatening me. I am tired and have decided to leave.”