Ashram where Asaram committed crime now a deserted cottage

The ashram once bustled with hundreds of followers is now deserted. Dh Photo

A nondescript two-storey ashram near Jodhpur where a 16-year-old girl was raped by self-styled godman Asaram Bapu wore a deserted look on Wednesday.

Situated at Manai village, about 35 km from Jodhpur, the ashram once bustled with hundreds of followers but is now a deserted building in the middle of parched fields. The cottage was built by Vishnu Deora, an ardent devotee.

Neelam Dubey, an ashram spokesperson, told DH, "The faith of his followers has not been shaken by the trial. They used to visit this place in the last five years. But now since the police have vacated the entire cottage, we have allowed a cook and a caretaker to stay inside."

However, locals remember this ashram more as a resting cottage of Asaram. "It was not a proper ashram like the one in Ahmedabad. Asaram used to come here once in a year and mostly it used to be his resting place", said a villager who lives close to the ashram.

Owing to the court orders, Section 144 was imposed in Jodhpur. The police vacated the cottage a week ahead of the verdict.

Shopkeepers at a product outlet and a few others have been allowed to stay in the ashram to take care of routine chores under certain conditions. A police team has been stationed at the main entrance since the last few days.

Once known as a centre of all Asaram's related activities, the cottage now remains locked most of the time.

As per the charge sheet, on August 14, 2013, the victim's parents brought her to Asaram who was living in the cottage at that time.

They were told by the hostel warden that “evil spirits” had possessed the girl and Asaram could cure her. On the intervening night of August 14 and 15, 2013, she was "raped" by the self-styled godman.

 

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