Ahmedabad: Self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, who is facing sexual assault charges, has said the Buddha too had to deal with similar accusations.
A 16-year-old girl, who was staying at Asaram's hostel in Rajasthan's Jodhpur, has filed a First Information Report (FIR) at Kamla market police station in Delhi alleging she was sexually assaulted by the godman.
"Lord Buddha too had to face such allegations and I am also facing the same. But the truth will come out," Asaram told his followers at his ashram in Ahmedabad on Friday.
"I am ready to go to Tihar Jail with a smile on my face. The prison will be my Vaikunth (paradise)," he said.
The godman said the girl who accused him of sexual assault is like his granddaughter.
"I am innocent, there is a conspiracy. The allegation is false. Look at her age. She is like my granddaughter," Asaram said.
"However, I am appealing my followers to keep calm, have patience and please make sure no harm is done to the family of this girl," said the 72-year-old.
"The girl is also innocent. It is just that somebody has misguided her. When she will realize her mistake, she and her family will come to me and apologize," he said.
The case has been referred to Jodhpur Police for investigation and relevant action.
Asaram Bapu was severely criticized by the media after his remark that the December 16, 2012 Delhi gang rape victim, was equally guilty along with those responsible for the sexual assault on her.
He is reported to have said: "Only 5-6 people are not the culprits. The victim daughter is as guilty as her rapists... She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop... This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don't think so."
In the year 2000, the Asaram Ashram was allocated about 10 acres of land in Bhairavi village of Navsari district by the Gujarat government. The ashram encroached on an additional 6 acres, leading to protests in the local villages.
The Yog Vedanta Samiti of Asaram Bapu was reportedly given permission to use the premises of the Mangalya temple in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh for 11 days for a satsang in 2001.
The samiti failed to vacate the premises after the satsang, and continue to occupy a total of 100 acres of land, valued at over 700 crores.
The land belongs to the now defunct Jayant Vitamins Limited.
A former member of the Asaram ashram, Raju Chandak, claimed in an affidavit with the police that tantric rituals were being performed in the ashram, and that he had seen Asaram Bapu sexually exploiting women.
In December 2009, Raju Chandak was attacked with guns by two unknown persons in the Ramnagar locality of Sabarmati.
The Gujarat Police filed an attempt to murder case against Asaram Bapu and two others.
A commission was set up in 2008 to probe the mysterious death of two children, whose bodies were found on the Sabarmati riverbed on July 5, 2008 after they went missing on July 3.
Dipesh Vaghela, aged 10 years, and Abhishek Vaghela, aged 11, were cousins studying at Ashram's Gurukul (residential school) at Motera.
Praful Vaghela, the father of one of the children, believes that the children were killed as consequence of tantric ritual.