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NEW DELHI: With controversial godman Asaram Bapu denying charges of molestation against him by a minor, the Indian home ministry has sought reports from three states on complaints against him.
The 72-year-old godman on Tuesday said that attempts were being made to frame him. He was served summons on August 26 to appear before police in connection with the case within four days to record his statement.
Ajay Pal Lamba, chief of Jodhpur police which issued summons, said the godman was personally given the summons in Indore where he is currently residing. A copy of summons was also delivered to his ashram in Ahmedabad.
The police chief airports have been alerted to keep an eye on the godman.
“We have asked all the officials concerned at all the airports of the country to keep a strict lookout for the godman.’’
The 16-year-old girl, who comes from Sahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, has alleged that she was sexually molested by the godman in his ashram near Jodhpur in Rajasthan state on the pretext of curing her of her illness on August 15.
The godman allegedly asked the girl to perform oral sex which she declined.
In his first reaction to the charges, Asaram Bapu said at his ashram in Indore on Monday that the case against him was an attempt to “malign the image of saints”.
He said the girl was `blameless and pure,’ adding that “her parents are my disciples (for 12 years), that makes her my grand-daughter.’’
Since the godman has been accused of involvement in land-grab cases in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh in the past, the the Indian Home Ministry has now sought reports from Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan governments on complaints against him.
The girl, currently a class XII student at Asaram Bapu’s gurukul (school) in Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh, had fallen ill. The godman allegedly advised her parents to bring the girl to Jodhpur.
When the girl was brought to Jodhpur on August 12, the godman reportedly told her parents that he would perform a special ritual for her health in an isolated place.
“He took them (the girl and her parents) to his ashram at Manai (20 km from Jodhpur) on 14 August and observed the ritual with his parents on the same night. But next day, he said the second ritual will again have to be observed, but with the girl being alone with him in his hut. On the night of August 15, bapu took the girl in his hut and allegedly exploited her sexually (unnatural sex),” the chief of Delhi Police chief said last week.
The girl was so shocked that she refused to accompany the godman to Ahmedabad and instead asked her parents to take her home. Two days later, she broke down and narrated her ordeal to her parents.
When her parents came to Delhi to confront Asaram Bapu, who was at a religious camp at the Ramlila Grounds between August 18-20, the godman refused to meet them, forcing her father to lodge a complaint against him in Delhi.
This is when her parents registered a case against him in Delhi.The Delhi Police later transferred the FIR to their counterparts in Rajasthan state where the alleged crime took place. After visiting the ashram where the molestation took place, police said they found prima facie evidence against the godman who has a huge following in north and western India.
“Asaram should be hanged,” damanded MP Gurudas Dasgupta in the Indian Parliament.