Baba in the report who makes Congress squirm

Who is this Devraha Baba, whose indictment by the Liberhan Commission, had even the Congress standing up in his support?

A yogi, who died on May 19, 1990 over two years before the Babri demolition he is said to have got his name from "Devaar," the Bhojpuri term for the spare, sandy banks of the Saryu river in Deoria district, near his native village Maieel on the Varanasi-Bhatni rail route.

Always seen in a machaan, a wooden platform house, the Baba's trademark was to touch his devotee's forehead with

his foot.

And the devotees lined up from Dr Rajendra Prasad to Lal Bahadur Shastri, Rajiv Gandhi to Arjun Singh.

Leader of Opposition in Uttar Pradesh Assembly Pramod Tiwari had met Devraha Baba at Kumbh Mela. He was then state Tourism Minister. "I met him on behalf of the government. He asked me if there was any trouble," Tiwari said.

In fact, former External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh told The Indian Express today that he was present when Rajiv Gandhi called on the Baba in November 1989.

They were accompanied by then Home Minister Buta Singh and then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister N D Tiwari. Rajiv was campaigning for Natwar Singh's Mathura Lok Sabha poll contest.

According to Natwar, Rajiv crossed a river to visit the Baba. "He gave his blessings after which we returned...He was sitting on a machaan and we were standing on the ground," said Natwar.

The Baba set up ashrams

in Vrindavan, Deoria and in Samastipur in Bihar but never groomed a successor, said Sudhakar Tewari, an elderly disciple.

"Baba was a spiritual guide to everyone and people

are anguished by the findings of the Commission," said Mahant Gyan Das, head of the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad.

He said the issue would be raised at a congregation of sants in the Magh Mela at Allahabad in January and at the the Kumbh Mela in Hardwar.

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