Hours after his dramatic midnight arrest from his ashram in Indore, a Rajasthan Police team flew Asaram to Jodhpur where they questioned him in connection with the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl, to which he pleaded innocence.
He was later produced in a local court that sent him to police custody for a day. As the charge against him is non-bailable, the self-styled godman will go to jail Monday evening after his remand ends.
Asaram was also put through medical checks, including a potency test that came out positive. Police commissioner Biju George Joseph told HT a team of doctors had found Asaram to be physically potent while the other tests had declared him medically fit — contradictory to claims he made earlier to delay his questioning.
After his interrogation that lasted five hours, Asaram was taken to court where the judge gave the police another day to question him. It also rejected Asaram’s plea that he be allowed to live at his ashram in the city.
The police then took him to his ashram in Manai, 30 km from the city, where he is said to have sexually assaulted the schoolgirl on August 15 to re-create the sequence of events of the crime. Some 100-150 of his supporters were waiting there and they tried to block the police convoy. The police lathicharged the crowd and arrested over 12 of them.
Asaram will spend the night in an AC room at the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary’s guest house. He refused to sleep on the bed, saying it was “impure”, and has been given a mat.
Joseph said Asaram's defence was unsatisfactory. "We want to make the case watertight and urged the court for police remand so we could get some more evidence."
He denied rumors that Asaram was fasting and said he had not demanded any special facilities. "We are cooperating with the investigation," said the preacher's lawyer Jagmal Singh Choudhary.
After his arrest in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, Asaram was marched straight to the airport where he spent the night on a VIP lounge sofa. A 7.50am Air India flight brought him to Delhi where he boarded another flight to Jodhpur.
On landing, he was taken to the guest house on the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary campus. He had some fruits and water, saying he was fasting for Ekadashi.
Tight security arrangements were made all the way through. Entry restrictions were put in place at Indore airport and lifted only after Asaram's flight left. At Jodhpur airport, he was escorted into one of seven luxury vehicles that was followed by seven buses with armed police personnel.
Inputs from HTC Indore