Asaram Bapu's police deadline ends Friday
A police team has been formed to track down Asaram Bapu and take him into custody if the spiritual guru fails to appear in Rajasthan for questioning Friday in connection with a sexual assault case filed against him by a 16-year-old girl, an official said.
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.
"The deadline for him to appear before the police ends today (Friday). In case, he fails to turn up, we have formed a team that will be rushed to him. He will be placed under custody and brought to Jodhpur. He may be arrested after that," a senior police 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 summoned hostel warden Shilpi, hostel attendant Keshav and Asaram Bapu's caretaker Shiva for questioning Thursday. However, none of them turned up.
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.
A look-out circular has also been issued against the spiritual guru to prevent any attempt by him to leave the country.
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.