Jeypore, Nov 4: Police and forest department officials Wednesday raided the ashram of a self-proclaimed godman at Sauraguda under Sadar police limits here in Koraput district and rescued several wild animals besides seizing lakhs of rupees, gold ornaments and objectionable material from its premises.
Tophani Baba alias Tophani Kumar Mohanty, however, managed to flee in his car with a bear before the raid, locals alleged.
The rescued animals included a barking deer, two wild boars, a monkey, a turtle, five porcupines, two civet cats, three birds and four deer. Lakhs of rupees in cash, antlers of sambar, swords and sharp-edged weapons, contraceptives, gold ornaments, foreign liquor, a multi-utility vehicle and 10 kg of raisin were seized. Two persons were detained in this connection and further investigations are on, police said.
Locals said the Baba set up the ashram with the help of a person five years ago and later claimed that he possessed mystical powers to cure people of all their illnesses. He claimed that he received the powers worshipping Goddess Durga.
Every Tuesday, people would gather at the Baba’s ashram to get his blessings. He would tell his followers that they were in possession of evil spirits and would ask them to pay hefty sums for performing midnight rituals in cremation ground.
Claiming that he was an animal lover, the Baba illegally possessed several wild animals which he used to frighten the people, locals said.
People were so afraid of the Baba that they never mustered the courage to speak against him fearing he might harm them with his practice of sorcery.
Tehsildar Sashank Kumar Mishra officiated as the magistrate during the raid in which assistant conservator of forest (ACF) Satyabrata Mohanty, ranger Bhaskar Rao, Duryodhan Ganda, Prasant Kumar Panda, Susant Badjena, Sadar IIC Gobind Chandra Buruda and other police officials participated. PNN