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Asaram bail plea spiked

Jaipur, Sept. 4: Asaram Bapu’s bail plea was rejected by a Jodhpur court today amid police claims about bribes to dilute the rape case against him.

The self-styled godman will have to stay in jail till September 15, with the court already having remanded him on Monday for 14 days.

Asaram’s lawyers announced this evening that they would move the high court for bail. A Supreme Court lawyer met him in prison.

Today’s bail blow came after the public prosecutor said a free Asaram could influence and pressurise witnesses in the case in which he is accused of sexually assaulting a minor at his ashram in Jodhpur.

Also, releasing Asaram could demoralise the police given that arresting him had been difficult, prosecutor Anand Purohit told the court.

Asaram was picked up amid high drama over the weekend in Indore before being brought to Rajasthan.

Adding to the concerns were police claims about a letter faxed yesterday to DCP Ajaypal Lamba, who is investigating the case, threatening him and saying Asaram would be free soon. Purohit also claimed that officers had been offered bribes to water down the case.

The police suspect the anonymous letter was sent by Asaram’s supporters. He has denied it. The 16-year-old girl’s family has alleged that the 72-year-old preacher raped her on August 15 on the pretext of curing her of evil spirits.

Asaram cleared a potency test earlier this week. The police have also taken him to the ashram, about 30km from Jodhpur, where the teenager was allegedly assaulted.

He has been charged with rape and criminal intimidation and for crimes under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act and the Juvenile Justice Act. If convicted, he could face up to a life term.

Yesterday, Asaram’s counsel had claimed the girl’s medical report had ruled out rape. The lawyer had also questioned the rape charge by asking why the girl, if she was being assaulted inside a room at the ashram with her parents waiting outside, hadn’t raised the alarm.