Aug. 31: Self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, accused of sexually assaulting a teenaged girl, was arrested shortly after midnight from his Indore ashram by a police team from Jodhpur that waited nearly eight hours to quiz the controversial 72-year-old.
The cops, who had come armed with a medical report that said he was fit to be questioned, whisked Asaram away in a white jeep around 12.30am.
“Asaram Bapu has been arrested and taken away by Jodhpur police,” SP (Indore West) Anil Singh Kushwah told reporters in the Madhya Pradesh city.
Asked where Asaram had been taken to, Kushwah said: “I have no information on that.”
In Jodhpur, city police commissioner Biju George Jospeh said Asaram had been moved out of Indore city but declined to say where he would be put up for the night.
“We are planning to bring him here tomorrow morning but are yet to decide whether he will be brought by train, road or by air,” he said.
The arrest came after a daylong haze on Asaram’s whereabouts and an assault by his supporters on a television crew outside his Jodhpur ashram, where the religious preacher is alleged to have raped and molested the 16-year-old on August 15 on the pretext of curing her of evil spirits.
Earlier this evening, Asaram’s son Manohar Sai had permitted “limited access” to the cops from Jodhpur who were taken inside the Indore ashram at five minutes past 9. “We have told them (Jodhpur police) that Bapu retires to bed at 10pm and his schedule should not be disturbed,” Sai said. “Bapu is not going to run away. If they need to probe further, he will be available tomorrow as well as on Monday.”
Sources said the team went inside, questioned Asaram for three hours and got him medically checked before arresting him.
By midnight, Asaram’s supporters had sensed trouble and formed human chains as they sought to block three exit doors. Sources, however, said the arrest was smooth though Asaram’s supporters raised slogans against the police as the vehicle carrying the controversial godman left the ashram.
Sai had ended speculation on Asaram’s whereabouts when he said his father was at the Indore ashram. “Bapu is very much in the Indore ashram. He has been suffering from a complex neurological disorder, trigeminal neuralgia, for the past thirteen years. He has high blood pressure. He is ready for questioning,” he said.
Doctors in Bhopal said trigeminal neuralgia was a condition characterised by intermittent, shooting pain affecting the trigeminal nerve, one of the largest nerves in the head. The pain can be so severe that people can be afraid to talk, eat or move during bouts of attack.
In Jodhpur, Asaram’s aide Shiva today surrendered at the DCP’s office. He is said to have stood outside the room when the girl was allegedly assaulted.
About hundreds of Asaram supporters attacked journalists of a TV channel while they were reporting in front of his ashram, about 15km from Jodhpur city. The police later detained 14 persons in connection with the attack.