A Rajasthan Police team is likely to bring self-styled godman Asaram Bapu to Jodhpur city by Sunday afternoon after arresting him Saturday night from his ashram in Indore in connection with a sexual assault case lodged against him by a 16-year-old girl, an official said.
Asaram and his son Narayan Sai coming out from Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopal after they missed their flight to New Delhi on August 30. (PTI Photo)
Asaram was arrested after lengthy questioning at his ashram in Indore, sources said.
The girl had lodged a complaint at a police station in Delhi Aug 20, accusing 72-year-old Asaram of sexually assaulting her at his ashram in Jodhpur. Asaram has denied the charge, with his son saying that the girl was "mentally unstable".
A police officer said that before his questioning, Asaram will be produced in a court after being brought to Jodhpur. He will be be brought in a flight from Indore to Delhi and from Delhi to Jodhpur.
Security has been stepped up in Jodhpur ahead of Asaram's arrival, he said.
Earlier on Saturday, the police had been interrogating Asaram as police vehicles were stationed near the ashram. As the vehicle carrying Asaram and Jodhpur police made its way out of the ashram in Indore, hundreds of his supporters, watched by posse of policemen, shouted slogans against the police.
During Asaram's interrogation, his son Narayan Sai did his best to maintain a friendly façade. "We are cooperating with the police. We have requested them to interrogate him tomorrow and let him go to bed at 10pm," he had said earlier in the evening.
But the mood of defiance in the Asaram camp was quite clear. During the course of a satsang in the evening, he told his supporters that the Rajasthan government would have to pay a heavy price if the police arrested Asaram.
Meanwhile, Shiva, a close aide and personal caretaker of Asaram, surrendered before the Jodhpur police for questioning. He is said to have arranged the meeting between Asaram and the teenaged sexual assault victim and her parents on August 14 in Manai village around 30km from Jodhpur.
During questioning, however, he denied the allegation. He said he was travelling on the day and was not in the ashram. "We are verifying his statements and further action will be taken after the completion of an investigation against him," Jodhpur DCP Ajay Pal Lamba said.
Read: Asaram's supporters attack media, six arrested
Earlier in the day, at least 13 Asaram supporters who attacked four journalists in Jodhpur were arrested for attempt to murder. The police also sealed the Jodhpur border to stop them from entering the city and evacuated the ashram located in Pal, about 15 km from Jodhpur, sending back around 500 followers to their homes.
(With inputs from PTI)