Jodhpur: Three days after a court here permitted Gujarat Police to take custody of self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, he was taken to Ahmedabad on Monday afternoon for interrogation in connection with sexual assault case lodged by two Surat-based sisters against him and his son.
72-year-old Asaram will be taken to Ahmedabad via Mumbai and questioned about the allegations of rape, sexual assault and illegal confinement between 2001-2006.
The District and Sessions Court had given permission to Gujarat Police to take custody of Asaram on Friday itself, but fearing a backlash by his followers, Gujarat Police had waited for orders from their seniors on taking him to Ahmedabad.
Ahmedabad DCP Manoj Ninama arrived here yesterday with extra police force and took the decision on Asaram.
A police official said the delay in taking Asaram to Ahmedabad was a deliberate move.
"As in the case of Jodhpur, Gujarat Police wanted to gather adequate evidence against Asaram in the fresh case as the incident happened about 10 years back," the official said.
He said right from verification of the scene of crime to collection of evidence, Gujarat Police had a tough challenge and they needed strong evidence to take Asaram into custody.
This was exactly the strategy adopted by the Jodhpur police, which took some time in arresting him and collecting evidence parallelly by sending police teams to Chhindwara, Shajahanpur and Ahmedabad, he said.
Asaram was arrested in August in Indore for allegedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at his ashram here.
Of the two Surat-based sisters, the elder sister has accused Asaram of repeated sexual assaults between 1997 and 2006, when she was living in his ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad city, while the younger one has accused Asaram`s son Sai of repeated sexual assaults between 2002 and 2005 when she was living in Asaram`s Surat ashram.
Meanwhile, people claiming to be witness to Asaram and
his son`s alleged amorous acts at different ashrams are approaching police.
After Ajay Kumar from Haryana, who had been the sewadar of Asaram at his Motera Ashram at Ahmedabad, gave his statement, two more persons once associated with the duo approached police today.
"They approached us and we recorded their statements, but they hardly have any relevance with our case. Their statements can, however, be used in the court just with a view to bring to the notice of the court the behaviour of Asaram, which may help us in our case," DCP Ajay Pal Lamba said.
Showing a bunch of letters received by the police containing similar accounts, Lamba said "based on our investigation, we have approached them and also the victims, but they did not come forward then due to fear from Asaram or his followers.
"They are coming forward now with mounting trust in police following the developments in the case so far and we do not want to disappoint them either.
"So, we are at least recording their statements," Lamba said, adding that no victim, however, has approached police so far.