Sexual assault case: Self-styled godman Asaram arrested

As the drama unfolded in the high profile sexual assault case, self-styled godman Asaram Bapu has been taken into custody by the Jodhpur police on late Saturday for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl.     

Zee Media Bureau

Indore/Jodhpur: As high drama unfolded in the sexual assault case involving Asaram Bapu, the self-styled godman was taken into custody by the Jodhpur police on late Saturday for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl.     

According to reports, the spiritual guru has been taken to an undisclosed location by the Jodhpur police as well as the Madhya Pradesh police.

The arrest was made a day after 72-year-old Asaram Bapu ignored the Friday deadline for him to appear before Jodhpur police following summons, a police team questioned him for arround three hours at his Indore ashram today.

Earlier, a lawyer from the ashram had told scribes that Asaram was resting and nothing would happen tonight.

"Whatever has to happen will take place only tomorrow," Ishkaran Bhandari told reporters. He did not elaborate but said Asaram was not keeping well and that the police team was inside the ashram premises.

Reports had suggested earlier that the police might arrest him if it is not satisfied with Asaram`s defence against the allegations of sexual assault levelled by a 16-year-old girl, an inmate of his Jodhpur ashram.

But even as the cops were about to start questioning the spiritual guru, while setting terms in front of the police, Asaram had said, "Finish questioning before 10 pm today or resume tomorrow."

However, there was no immediate official word as to whether the religious preacher was questioned after the Jodhpur police team reached his ashram armed with a report from doctors of Indore Medical College that he was medically fit to be interrogated.

Few hours prior, Asaram`s son, Narayan Sai, had also appeared before the media and said that `Bapu` was unwell and not hiding.

"All allegations against Asaram Bapu are absolutely baseless," his son said further.

While assuring that Asaram is innocent, his son added, "Bapu is not running away, he is waiting for the Jodpur police to arrive."

"Bapuji has a problem with blood pressure and is suffering from trigeminal neuralgia. Talk about his going missing and running away from police is rubbish," Sai told reporters.

Earlier in the day, at least half a dozen supporters of Asaram Bapu were detained in Rajasthan`s Jodhpur city for assaulting media persons covering developments in a sexual assault case registered against the spiritual guru, police said.

After the attack which left a TV reporter and a cameraman seriously injured, prohibitory orders were issued banning gathering of more than four people in the area where Asaram Bapu`s ashram is situated near Jodhpur city.

"We have lodged a first information report (FIR) in connection with the attack on media persons and rounded up about six persons," said the officer.  

Police said 13 people including a woman have been arrested in the attack which was condemned by the Broadcast Editors` Association (BEA).

As soon as the police team reached the ashram and met its personnel, it was told that Asaram was presiding over a congregation and that it will have to wait for some time.

Jodhpur DCP Ajay Lamba said his team will arrest Asaram if it is not satisfied with his defence against the allegations of sexual assault levelled by a 16-year-old girl, an inmate of his Jodhpur ashram.

"We have got information that he(Asaram) is medically fit for interrogation. A Jodhpur police team will begin his questioning in the next few hours after it goes to the Indore Ashram," Jodhpur DCP Ajay Lamba told reporters in Jodhpur this evening.

"If we are not satisfied with the defence offered by Asaram we will arrest him," Lamba said after it initially appeared that the police was clueless about the whereabouts of the controversial self-styled godman.

The speculation about Asaram`s whereabouts ended after Asaram`s son Narayan Sai claimed he is not evading the police and that he is recuperating at his ashram in Indore from illness.

Lamba said that the Jodhpur police got a fax from Indore ashram yesterday in which it was stated that Asaram had a "neurological problem" after he underwent a medical examination by doctors of Bhopal Medical Colege.

"We can given an official declaration of arrest only after communicating with Asaram Bapu," Lamba added.

Earlier in the day, top police officials including IG, SP and SSP along with nearly 300 policemen converged on the godman`s ashram in Indore.

While there is no official word on where Asaram is, police sources said the godman was inside his Indore ashram. 

The District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police are reportedly inside the ashram. 

The Jodhpur Police had also dispatched teams to search for the godman to question him on sexual assault.

The Jodhpur Police dispatched two teams to Bhopal and Indore to search for the controversial godman. 

A Jodhpur Police team on Tuesday had also delivered summons to Asaram in the case involving a minor and asked him to appear before it police for questioning by August 30. 

Asaram Bapu has been accused by a 16-year-old girl of sexually assaulting her at his ashram in Rajasthan`s Jodhpur city. 

The girl had made a complaint at a police station in Delhi on August 20, accusing Asaram Bapu of sexually assaulting her at his ashram. 

The girl studied at Asaram Bapu`s ashram in Madhya Pradesh`s Chhindwara district and stayed in a hostel there. She apparently went to meet him in Jodhpur where the alleged assault took place. 

With PTI inputs

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