Self-styled godman Asaram used every trick in the book on Friday to avoid appearing before the Jodhpur police for questioning in a sexual assault case, even as the midnight deadline to do so rapidly drew to a close and his arrest seemed imminent.
His first resort was the old gimmick of calling in sick. His son Narayan Sai addressed reporters at their Bhopal ashram complex around noon, claiming that Asaram was not well and his plan to fly to Delhi in the morning was cancelled.
Next, he left for the Bhopal airport at 5.40pm for a 5.50pm Delhi flight that he eventually missed. From there, he bustled off to Indore where he is said to enjoy the support of influential politicians and businessmen.
It was expected he might fly from Indore to Ahmedabad or Delhi or Mumbai at night. But sources said no ticket was booked with any airline in his name.
At the time of going to press, he had holed himself up in his Khandwa Road ashram in Indore. “Bapuji was sitting in the front seat of his SUV while his son was also seen in the car as they arrived around 9.40pm,” sources said.
Meanwhile, the Jodhpur police rejected his plea for extending the deadline. DCP Ajay Pal Lamba said they did not find the grounds he had cited — ill health and death of a relative — convincing. “If he does not have concrete defence, he will be arrested,” he said.