Asaram Bapu rape case: Jodhpur police summons guru for sexual abuse probe

Written by PTI | Ahmedabad/Jodhpur | Updated: Aug 27 2013, 02:43am hrs
Controversial self-styled godman Asaram Bapu was today summoned by Jodhpur police to appear before it for questioning within four days over the alleged rape allegation levelled against him by a minor girl.

The sexual abuse summons was delivered in Ahmedabad to a representative of 72-year-old Asaram Bapu.

"We have issued summons to Asaram Bapu and asked him to appear before us to record his statement within four days of receiving it," DCP (West) Jodhpur Police Ajay Pal Lamba told PTI in Ahmedabad.

"We called Asaram Bapu's representative from the ashram to a local police station in Ahmedabad and executed the summons," he said.

"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," Lamba said.

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.

Asaram Bapu, who was booked for allegedly sexually assaulting the girl in a Jodhpur ashram, is currently in Indore.

The self-styled godman claimed last night that he was innocent and regards the minor as his "daughter". His spokesman has also denied the charges against him.

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.

"In the investigation so far, we have found the allegations of the girl to be prima facie true and now we are giving Asaram Bapu a chance to prove that he was not guilty," Lamba said.

However, authorities at Asaram Bapu's ashram in Ahmedabad denied receiving any such communication from the Jodhpur police related to the complaint.

"Until this moment, we have not received any communication either from the Jodhpur police or on their behalf from local police," said Asaram Bapu's Motera Ashram spokesperson Sunil Vankhede.

Meanwhile, protests were held in Jaipur and other parts against Asaram.

Women organisations held a demonstration near Rajasthan Assembly building demanding arrest of the godman and submitted a representation addressed to chief minister.

"Rape and sexual abuse are serious crime and no culprit should be spared. Asaram should be arrested as soon as possible in connection with the case registered against him," Renuka Pamecha, an activist said.

In Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh, activists of Dharamyuddh Sena burnt an effigy of the spiritual guru while members of the Gondwana Gantantra Party ubmitted a memorandum to the district administration seeking closure of Asaram's ashram in the district.

A police team from Jodhpur has been camping in the district as the victim was studying in Asaram's Chhindwar gurukul before she was sent to Jodhpur ashram where the alleged incident took place.

The cops are questioning the manager of Chhindwara gurukul, hostel warden, the main caretaker of Asaram Bapu and also the girl's brother studying in 10th standard, according to sources.