Asaram aides fail to appear before cops

Last Updated: Thu, Aug 29, 2013 20:56 hrs

Jaipur: Three aides of Asaram Bapu failed to appear till late Thursday evening before Rajasthan Police for questioning in connection with a sexual assault case filed against the spiritual guru by a 16-year-old girl, an official said.

The girl had made a complaint at a police station in Delhi Aug 20, accusing Asaram Bapu of sexually assaulting her at his ashram in Rajasthan's Jodhpur city. The spiritual leader has denied the allegation.

The girl studied at Asaram's ashram in Madhya Pradesh's Chhindwara and stayed in a girls' hostel there.

Police had summoned hostel warden Shilpi, hostel attendant Keshav and Asaram Bapu's caretaker Shiva for questioning Thursday.

"Shilpi and Keshav had scared the girls' parents that she was possessed by an evil spirit and they should take her to Asaram Bapu for some religious rituals," a police officer said.

"The girl's parents took her to Jodhpur ashram where Asaram Bapu is accused of sexually assaulting her. Shiva was outside the room when she was assault. So we need to interrogate him," a police officer said.

The officer said that the three aides of the spiritual guru were to appear for questioning Thursday as per the notices issued by investigators.

"They didn't turn up. We will now send a team to Madhya Pradesh and other places for further investigation," said the officer late in the evening.

The officer said the plea of Asaram Bapu that he be granted more time to appear for questioning had been turned down.

"Asaram Bapu will now have to appear for questioning tomorrow (Friday). If he fails to comply with the orders, he may be arrested," said the officer.

Asaram Bapu was Tuesday served notice at his ashram in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, asking him to appear before police in Jodhpur for questioning before or on Aug 30.

A police official told IANS that the spiritual guru had sought time till Sep 20, saying he will participate in several spiritual functions and give discourses over this period.

"The reprieve cannot be granted on the reasons cited by Asaram Bapu. He is facing a serious charge of sexual assault on a minor girl," said the official.

A notice was also served Monday at Asaram Bapu's ashram in Ahmedabad in Gujarat.

Asaram Bapu has been booked under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and the Indian Penal Code.

Rajasthan Police Tuesday also initiated formalities to get a look-out circular issued against the spiritual guru to prevent any attempt by him to leave the country.

A police official in Jodhpur said a letter had been sent to the immigration department in New Delhi to get the look-out circular issued against Asaram Bapu.

A police team also inspected the spiritual guru's ashram near Jodhpur and recorded statements of several people to verify whether the girl and her parents were present at the ashram Aug 15 when the alleged incident took place.

"During preliminary investigation, it has come up that the girl and her parents and Asaram Bapu were present on Aug 15. The owner of the land, which is being used for the ashram, told police that the girl and her parents had come to the ashram to meet him," said the official.

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