Jaipur: Rajasthan Police yesterday asked spiritual guru Asaram Bapu to come for questioning within four days to answer charges that he molested a 16-year-old at his Jodhpur ashram.
A sub-inspector sent to Ahmedabad delivered a notice to the godman, who enjoys a wide following in and outside India, asking him to appear before police on or before August 30, a senior officer told IANS.
“Asaram Bapu will be interrogated when he makes himself available for questioning,” said the official.
Asaram Bapu’s supporters have vociferously denied the allegation — and so has the spiritual leader.
The aged Asaram Bapu has claimed that police in Rajasthan were acting under “pressure” — an euphemism for the Congress party which governs the state.
The victim filed a complaint at a police station in New Delhi on August 20, accusing Asaram Bapu of sexually assaulting her at his ashram in Jodhpur city in Rajasthan.
A first information report (FIR) was registered against him in Jodhpur the next day after receiving a copy of the complaint from Delhi Police.
The officer said police had also issued notices to the warden of a hostel in Asaram’s Chhindwara gurukul in Madhya Pradesh where the girl stayed while pursuing her studies.
The godman’s personal caretaker has also been asked to appear before the Jodhpur police by August 30, the officer added.
Asaram Bapu has been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and other sections of the Indian Penal Code.
A police team inspected the spiritual guru’s ashram near Jodhpur last week and recorded statements of several people to verify whether the girl and her parents were at the ashram on August 15 when the girl says she was sexually assaulted.
“During preliminary investigation, it has come up that the girl and her parents and also Asaram Bapu were present at the ashram on August 15. The owner of the land, which is used for the ashram, told police that the girl and her parents had come to the ashram,” said the official.
Asaram Bapu’s supporters had earlier claimed that the godman was not in Jodhpur on August 15.
Asaram Bapu has reportedly taken refuge in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Madhya Pradesh, with a party leader, Prabhat Jha, come out in
his defence. IANS