Spiritual guru Bhayyuji Maharaj, who has a significant support base in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself in Indore on Tuesday.
A large number of his supporters gathered in front of the hospital where the 50-year-old 'godman' was rushed after the shooting incident.
His ashram is situated in Indore city and top political leaders like Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and celebrities like singer Lata Mangeshkar among others are his disciples. Bhayyu Maharaj also enjoyed a large following among politicians and film stars.
According to media reports, he retired from active public life in 2016. At that time, he was quoted as saying, "I have done whatever is possible for me.
Now, I cannot do anything as I am not getting any support from the society. At this moment, I am announcing my retirement not out of frustration but because my conscience is telling me so".
Inspector General of Police, Makrand Deoskar said, "A suicide note and pistol have been seized from the spot. All aspects of the case are being investigated."
He also said that family members will also be questioned.
Two months ago, Bhayyu Maharaj, whose original name was Uday Singh Deshmukh, had refused to accept Minister of State (MoS) rank granted by the Madhya Pradesh.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan paid his tribute. "My tribute to saint Bhayyuji Maharaj. The country has lost a person who was a confluence of culture, knowledge and selfless service," he tweeted.
Mostly all Maharashtra Chief Ministers including the incumbent, Devendra Fadnavis, and former President Pratibha Patil used to pay obeisance to him.
When India Against Corruption (IAC) movement led by Anna Hazare was at its peak some years back, he had negotiated with the agitators to break their fast.
Maharashtra Minister for Rural Development Pankaja Munde also expressed her condolences. "Bhaiyyuji Maharaj who always was apart of my family is no more. Such a shock to all his followers n us too. always called me 'akka saheb'.. So much pain these incidents give," Munde tweeted.
However, the Congress party has demanded a CBI probe into his death and claimed that he was under mental pressure.
"Madhya Pradesh government had put pressure on him to accept privileges and support the government, which he refused to do. He was under a lot of mental pressure and therefore, CBI probe should be done," said Congress leader Manak Agarwal.