Zee Media Bureau
Indore/Jodhpur: Jodhpur Police on Tuesday sought a look-out notice for Asaram Bapu to prevent him from fleeing the country even as the controversial self-styled godman received the summons personally in Indore for questioning in a sexual assault case.
As the chorus for strong action against 72-year-old Asaram grew louder, he received the summons at the Indore Ashram after the visiting two-member Jodhpur Police team was made to wait for nearly eight hours. He has been directed to appear before the Jodhpur police for questioning within four days of getting the notice.
"We have issued a request letter to Joint Director- Immigration(in Bureau of Immigration in Delhi) seeking look-out notice against Asaram Bapu who has been summoned by Jodhpur police in connection with a sexual exploitation case lodged against him, DCP Ajay Lamba said in Jodhpur.
Lamba said his team had to wait for nearly 8 hours at Asaram`s ashram in Indore to meet him personally for delivering the notice for questioning in connection with the allegation of sexual assault levelled by a 16-year-old girl.
Asked what the police will do if the accused failed to appear within the given time-frame, the officer said, "we will later decide what step we have to take if Asaram does not come."
The team, which reached his ashram on Khandwa road on the outskirts of Indore at 8 am to serve the summons to Asaram, had to wait for several hours after being told by ashram functionaries he was meditating and cannot be disturbed.
"We have served the notice to Asaram for appearing before the police in the matter," sub-inspector (SI) Bhanwar Singh told reporters outside the ashram in Indore.
Asaram has give his assurance that he will cooperate with the police in the matter, he said.
The summons were issued after initial investigations found there was prima facie a case against him which needs to be probed.
He has been booked under sections 376, 342, 506 and 509 of the IPC, section 8 of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and sections 23 and 26 of the Juvenile Justice Act in connection with the alleged assault.
The development came on a day when the self-styled guru issued a veiled threat, saying if he is arrested the public might lose control.
Asaram said that the entire episode was a conspiracy against him.
Asaram said he will give up food and water if he is forcibly arrested. The self-styled godman added that only public knows what it will do if he is arrested.
Asaram has been in Indore for the past few days after being accused of sexual abuse by a 16-year-old at his Jodhpur ashram.
As per the summon issued yesterday, 72-year-old Asaram has to appear before the Jodhpur Police for questioning within four days.
"After the primary investigation it turned out that the victim`s accusations were prima facie established. Hence we summoned Asaram Bapu to remain present before us, on or before August 30, to record his statement," DCP (West) Jodhpur Police Ajay Pal Lamba said yesterday.
Lamba said an opportunity is being given to Asaram Bapu for presenting his version regarding the allegation levelled against him by the 16-year-old girl.
The self-styled godman claimed Sunday night that he was innocent and regards the minor as his "daughter".
He has been booked under Sections 376, 342, 506 and 509 of the IPC, Section 8 of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and Sections 23 and 26 of the Juvenile Justice Act.
When asked about the allegation that Asaram Bapu is used to evading summons issued either by police or inquiry commissions, Lamba said, "If he will not respond to our summons, we will issue another one and if he still ignores it, then we may initiate action for his arrest. But that will be considered only after August 30."
Besides the summons served on Asaram Bapu, notices have also been issued to the manager of Chhindwara gurukul in Madhya Pradesh, hostel warden and the main caretaker of Asaram, who was present at Manai ashram in Jodhpur with him on August 15, when the alleged sexual assault took place there.
The girl was studying in Asaram`s Chhindwara gurukul before she was sent to Jodhpur ashram, police said.
(With agency inputs)