Asaram quizzed by Jodhpur police amid tight security

Jodhpur: Self-styled godman Asaram Bapu was on Sunday quizzed by police in Jodhpur after being flown from Indore where he was arrested after midnight amid high drama for allegedly assaulting a 16-year-old girl at his ashram. 72-year-old Asaram, who was escorted by Rajasthan police personnel led by Additional Commissioner of Police Satish Jnagid, arrived at the airport here on board an Air India flight via Delhi at about 1230 hrs. After coming out from the airport, Asaram moved into one of the seven luxury vehicles escorted by cops and was taken to Rajasthan Armed Constabulary Battalion Campus in Mandore where he was being interrogated, sources said.

Unprecedented security arrangements were made at the airport, where Asaram faced black flag protests, on the streets, outside and inside Asaram ashrams, and the Mahila Thana (women’s police station) where the case has been lodged. The convoy was followed by seven buses with armed police personnel. The godman might be taken for spot verification, DCP Ajay Pal Lamba told reporters Asaram was arrested by the Jodhpur Police after midnight from his ashram in Indore and escorted by a large posse police personnel to the airport, where he spent the night on a sofa in the VIP lounge. An Air India flight carrying Asaram from Indore left at 7.50 AM for New Delhi from where he boarded another flight for Jodhpur. A team of doctors from Indore’s Medical College had earlier found him fit for questioning and travel, the sources said. Armed with the medical report, a team of Jodhpur police arrested Asaram and whisked him in a white jeep about half an hour after the stroke of midnight, after waiting for nearly eight hours at the ashram. Meanwhile, the father of the girl called off his fast-unto-death in Shahajahanpur district of Uttar Pradesh soon after the arrest of the godman in Indore. Circle Officer, City, Rajeswar Singh offered the girl’s father juice to end his fast that he began yesterday morning demanding immediate arrest of Asaram. “The first hurdle has been overcome. We would take our fight forward,” the father said after ending his fast after midnight.

The girl’s father thanked the media saying “the arrest has been made possible because of their efforts”. A number of teachers, doctors, lawyers, traders and others also sat on a token hunger strike to show their solidarity. After he ended his fast, the girl’s father was taken to his home amid heavy security. Meanwhile, demonstrations against Asaram were held at different places, with protesters burning his effigy.On his arrival at airport here, scores of slogan shouting people showed black flags and displayed anti-Asaram posters in Ratanada area. “It’s end of the road for you,” they chanted. The sexual assault case was filed by an inmate of his Chhindwara-based ashram in Madhya Pradesh. The assault allegedly took place in Jodhpur following which a case was initially registered in Delhi and later transferred to Jodhpur for probe.

Digvijay slams BJP

As the case took political overtones, Congress leader Digvijay Singh on Sunday attacked the BJP, questioning the “silence” of its leader Sushma Swaraj and asking why Narendra Modi has not taken action on the report of a judicial commission which probed the mysterious death of two boys at the godman’s Gujarat ashram. Singh alleged that Asaram has been close to BJP “for a very long time” and accused the opposition party of double standards. Reacting to it, Swaraj said the law will take its own course. “In our country we have a law that is same for everybody,” she tweeted. But Singh persisted with his charge, “This is very illustrative of the double standards of the BJP that they cry hoarse on issues where someone else is involved but where one of them is involved, they keep quiet.” He said, “If Modi wants justice, first of all the judicial commission report which is in closed cover with Gujarat on the issue of murder of two boys who were living in Asaram’s ashram, why is it not being made public.” (PTI)