A day after the arrest of self-styled godman Asaram in a sexual assault case, the Gujarat government slapped a notice on his ashram in Surat, demanding a rent of Rs 18.3 crore. The ashram, the government maintained, had encroached on over 34,000 sq m government land in Jahangirpura, Surat.
The government crackdown was not on the Surat ashram alone. There are many complaints of encroachment by Asaram ashrams and the state revenue department has asked all district collectors to provide details.
Asaram had weathered many controversies given his closeness to the right wing. This is the first instance where the state’s BJP government is taking action in earnest.
"We will take action in each case of encroachment by Asaram ashrams in the state," said a senior official in the state revenue department. "The Jahangirpura ashram has been occupying the land illegally since 1996, so a notice has been issued for the rent till 2013."
Asaram’s Motera ashram in Ahmedabad has allegedly encroached upon 74,000 sq m government land.