Aug. 21: Godman Asaram Bapu has been accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at one of his ashrams, the latest in a string of controversies surrounding the septuagenarian.
The police complaint was filed yesterday by the victim in Delhi, after she and her family said they were turned away when they tried to meet Asaram during a sermon in the capital.
The incident took place on August 15 at an ashram near Rajasthan’s Jodhpur where the 72-year-old allegedly assaulted the girl, who had been ailing, after promising to cure her with tantric rituals, says the complaint.
“We have forwarded the FIR to Rajasthan,” said an officer of Delhi’s Kamala Market police station where the complaint was filed.
Asaram has been booked for rape, wrongful confinement and criminal intimidation, charges that could lead to a life term.
The godman had threatened the minor with dire consequences if she spoke out, the complaint said, but she told her parents about it when she returned home to Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur. She stays at a gurukul run by Asaram’s foundation in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhindwara.
The complaint comes months after Asaram courted controversy by saying the victim of the bus gang rape in Delhi last December could have saved herself by addressing her attackers as “brothers” and pleading for “mercy”.
Today, the godman dismissed the charges as “a routine affair”, telling devotees at his main ashram in Ahmedabad that “some people continue to level baseless allegations”.
Jodhpur DCP Ajaypal Lamba said: “The minor had come (from Chhindwara) to his ashram in Marai village as she was sick. The incident took place on August 15.”
This isn’t Asaram’s first brush with the law. In 2008, the bodies of two children who stayed at his Ahmedabad ashram were found on the banks of a river nearby. Their parents had accused Asaram of having performed “black magic”.
In 2009, Gujarat police had filed an attempt to murder case against Asaram over an attack on a former aide who had claimed to have seen the godman in “objectionable positions” with some inmates.