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Asaram son caught, in disguise

New Delhi, Dec. 4: Asaram Bapu’s son Narayan Sai was arrested today from Haryana on rape charges, caught disguised as a Sikh in a car that threw up cash, mobiles and even utensils in tell-tale signs of his two months on the run.

The 40-year-old, picked up from Kurukshetra along with an aide and the driver in the early hours, did not reveal his identity until several hours later when the group was brought to neighbouring Delhi and quizzed.

“They revealed their identities after sustained and intensive interrogation,” said additional commissioner Ravindra Yadav, whose team had been alerted by police in Gujarat’s Surat where the alleged rape had occurred.

Preliminary probe suggested that Sai’s was a five-state run in the north. His father Asaram had also played a cat-and-mouse game with Rajasthan police before he was arrested from Indore on September 1 on charges of raping a minor at an ashram near Jodhpur in August this year.

Earlier, another police officer described the circumstances of Sai’s arrest. “Sai had disguised himself as a Sikh with a red turban and was clad in a tracksuit and a jacket to hoodwink the police. He was arrested after a long chase near Kurukshetra,” joint commissioner (crime) S.B.K. Singh said.

In August, two sisters had filed separate complaints of rape with Surat police — one against Asaram and the other against Sai.

The younger sibling, now 30, had accused Sai of repeated sexual assaults between 2002 and 2005 when she was living at Asaram’s Surat ashram. The elder sister’s allegations against Asaram related to 1997 and 2006 when she was in his ashram in Ahmedabad.

Singh, the joint commissioner, said today that over Rs 2.74 lakh in cash and six mobile phones had been found with the trio. The aide was identified as Hanuman Thakur, 29, and the driver as Ramesh Malhotra, 27. “The Ford EcoSport, with an Uttar Pradesh registration number, was seized. Some utensils were also found in the vehicle,” Singh added.

Surat police had announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for information on Sai. Hanuman, the aide, carried a reward of Rs 1 lakh as he too was named in the FIR.

Later today, a Delhi court allowed Gujarat police 24-hour transit remand. The trio will be flown there tonight and produced before a magistrate tomorrow.

The police said Sai had been in Jaipur when the FIR was registered. He then left for Agra and came to Delhi. After that, he stayed for a week in an ashram at Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh where he shaved off his beard. He also stayed 10 days in a Greater Noida apartment, went to Haridwar and then to Haryana and Punjab.

Yadav, additional commissioner, said a Delhi police team had been trying to find Sai’s whereabouts for the past one-and-a-half months after being alerted by the Gujarat cops.