Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava
New Delhi: Under scanner for sexually assaulting a minor in his ashram in Jodhpur recently, the 72-year-old spiritual guru, Asaram Bapu, is not new to controversies and had faced serious troubles in the past too.
The self-styled godman, who enjoys a wide fan following across the country, has been embroiled in a string of controversies, including accusations of land grabbing, culpable homicide and attempt to murder, rape, practicing occult sciences and hurling abuses.
Given below are some controversies he had got embroiled in the past:
December 2009: The godman landed in serious trouble when a complaint was filed against him and his two close aides for allegedly attempting to murder a former follower of the religious guru in Ahmedabad.
The police complaint against Asaram was filed following an attack on his former follower Raju Chandak by two unknown persons in Ramnagar locality of Sabarmati on December 6 in 2009. In his complaint, Chandak had made Asaram the prime accused alleging that it was on his insistence that the two men fired at him while he was returning home on a motorcycle.
March 2010: This time, the self-styled godman was accused of illegally grabbing 67,099 square metre land belonging to the Gujarat government.
The state government claimed that his ashram in Ahmedabad had allegedly encroached upon 67,099 square metre land, which was later reclaimed from the spiritual guru.
September 2012: Asaram Bapu again courted a controversy when the Gujarat CID filed a chargesheet against seven office-bearers at his Ahmdabad Ashram in connection with the mysterious death of two boys there in 2008.
Abhishek Vaghela (11) and his cousin Dipesh Vaghela (10) went missing from a residential school of the Asaram Bapu’s Motrea Ashram in Ahmedabad in April 2008. Their decomposed bodies were later found from the banks of Sabarmati River near the Ashram.
The case was handed over to the CID in 2008 following a public outcry over the issue, which after a year of probing had filed a complaint of culpable homicide and booked seven office-bearers of the ashram.
December 2012: At a time when the brutal gang-rape of a young paramedical student by a group of six men on a moving bus in Delhi last year had shaken the collective conscience of the nation, Asaram Bapu faced sharp criticism for saying that the victim was also to be blamed for the incident and suggested that she should have begged the culprits to stop.
“Only five-six people are not the culprits. The girl is as guilty as her rapists… She should have called the culprits ‘brothers’ and begged before them to stop… This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don’t think so,” he had said.
January 2013: The spiritual guru landed in fresh trouble after the Serious Fraud Investigating Office (SFIO) recommended his prosecution in a Rs 700-crore land grab case in Madhya Pradesh.
The case pertained to 200 acres of land in Ratlam. The land belonging to Jayant Vitamins Limited (JVL) is located on the Delhi-Pune freight corridor and was allegedly grabbed in 2000. Asaram’s followers had been using it since then.
February 2013: A month later, the godman made headlines following the mysterious death of a 24-year-old man Rahul Pachouri at his ashram in Jabalpur. In his complaint, Dileep Pachori, the victim’s father, alleged says his son was poisoned by the disciples of the `godman` during a ‘satsang’ held at Jabalpur.
However, Jabalpur police found no criminal involvement of Asaram and his disciples in the incident.
March 2013: In March this year, Asaram was criticised for allegedly wasting tones of water at a time when Maharashtra was facing worst-ever drought in over four decades.
Besides, the self-styled godman had also faced criticism for his erratic behavior and use of abusive language. He was caught in a controversy when he allegedly kicked a devotee who had come to seek his blessings in Vidisha earlier this year.