The Jodhpur police on Monday issued summons to controversial self-styled godman Asaram Bapu in connection with the allegation of sexual assault and criminal intimidation leveled against him by a minor girl.
He has been given four days to appear for questioning. Currently, Asaram is holed up in his ashram in Indore for time in “solitude”.
According to police sources, a notice was sent to Asaram through a sub-inspector rank officer in Ahmedabad, asking him to appear before police within the next four days. The official said that whether Asaram is found at the Ahmedabad ashram or not, the notice has been executed there, adding that a police team has been sent to Indore to keep an eye on his movements.
When told about Asaram Bapu’s likelihood to evade summons, DCP (West) Jodhpur Police Ajay Pal 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.
“In the investigation so far, we have found the allegations of the girl to be prima facie true and now we are giving Bapu a chance to prove that he was not guilty.” Besides the summons served to Asaram Bapu, notices have also been issued to the manager of Chhindwara Gurukul in Madhya Pradesh, the hostel warden and main caretaker of Asaram, who was present at Manai Ashram in Jodhpur with him on August 15, when the alleged sexual assault took place.
Before she was sent to the Jodhpur Ashram, the girl was studying in Asaram’s Chhindwara Gurukul, the police said.
However, Asaram’s management at the Ahmedabad ashram maintain that they have received no communication from Jodhpur police with regard to these allegations.
“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.
The police had registered a "Zero FIR" (an FIR registered irrespective of the place of incident) and booked Asaram under Sections 376 (rape), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the IPC and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.