A minor girl accuses a 72-year-old man of sexual assault. He vehemently denies it. No matter how you look at the incident, most would agree that the first step — getting to the bottom of the case — is straightforward: interrogate the accused, and if found guilty, arrest him without any delay.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case at all if you notice the lackadaisical way the police are handling the allegations against controversial godman Asaram . On August 20, a 15-year-old girl from Uttar Pradesh filed a police complaint in Delhi, accusing the godman of sexually assaulting her at his ashram in Jodhpur on August 15.
On August 21, the case was shifted to Jodhpur and an FIR lodged. The godman was booked under Sections 376, 342, 506 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 8 of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act and Sections 23 and 26 of the Juvenile Justice Act. But instead of chasing Asaram down and questioning him thoroughly, the Jodhpur police gave him time till August 30 to appear before them, failing which he would be arrested.
Meanwhile, Asaram has gone to Madhya Pradesh and has started ‘Operation Fightback’. On Thursday, he accused Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi of orchestrating false accusations against him. Unsurprisingly, now with his back to the wall, he and his cohorts are also going all out to defame the minor girl.
His son has alleged that the girl is mentally ill, while Asaram has offered to give Rs. 5 lakh to anyone who can prove him guilty. The godman seems to have forgotten that we have a functioning legal system and it has the wherewithal to decide whether the godman is guilty or not. This is not the first time that Asaram is in such a mess: in 2008, the parents of two young boys accused him of murdering their sons who were studying in one of his schools in Gujarat. A CID probe was ordered but nothing came of it.
The delay in interrogation and the way Asaram has been moving from one state to another have led to rumours that he is using his political links to evade arrest. It could be true, but political leaders will hopefully have better sense and distance themselves from him and allow the law to take its own course.