Self-styled godman Asaram was on Sunday flown to Jodhpur by police, hours after his arrest from his ashram in Indore for allegedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl.
Asaram, arrested from Indore, being taken to Jodhpur by police officials. (ANI Photo)
The Air India flight AI-635 carrying Asaram left at 7.50am and will land at New Delhi from where he will board another flight for Jodhpur, sources said.
Asaram, 72, was arrested by the Jodhpur Police after midnight from his Ashram and was taken to Indore Airport escorted by a large posse police personnel.
He spent the night at the airport. The arrest was made after a team of doctors from Indore's Medical College found him fit for questioning and travel.
Armed with the medical report, a team of Jodhpur police arrested Asaram and whisked him in a white jeep about half an hour after the stroke of midnight, after waiting for nearly eight hours at the ashram.
Here is what went on inside the ashram and later at the airport, according to multiple sources who were there as the events unfolded:
Venue: Asaram’s ashram at Khandwa Road in Ranibagh area of Indore, Madhya Pradesh’s largest city
8.25pm on Saturday: After hours of high drama, nearly 10 police officials enter self-styled godman’s ashram
# Asaram immediately leaves for satsang inside the campus
8.40pm: His son Narayan Sai makes comes to the ashram gate and tells the media the police have been asked to finish questioning his father by 10pm because he is unwell and has to sleep
# Asaram continues his satsang, where he addresses supporters
# Tells supporters not to agitate if he is arrested. Supporters raise various slogans including “arrest over our bodies”
# Tells supporters he will cooperate with the police, but the state government will have to bear the consequences. Supporters continue raucous sloganeering
9.20pm: Asaram ends satsang, during which police consider and reject the possibility of taking him out through alternate exits from the ashram
# His supporters block the main gate of the ashram
9.40pm: Asaram agrees to being questioned
10.20pm: A police official who does not want to be named says Asaram is not cooperating
10.40pm: Six to seven more police vehicles arrive
11.20pm: Ambulance arrives with doctor, triggering talk that Asaram may be shifted to hospital
11.40pm: Asaram is not feeling well, his lawyer Pushya Karan Bhandari tells reporters. “Now, whatever will happen will happen in morning.”
11.50pm: More police arrive and barricades are put up
12.25am: Eight cars come out of campus. Asaram is in the second one, in the back seat with two police officials
12.45am: Car reaches Indore airport. Asaram is asked to sit on a sofa
7.40am: Asaram boards flight
7.50am: Air India flight AI-635 carrying Asaram leaves for New Delhi from where he is likely to be taken in another flight to Jodhpur
Police jawans stand guard at Asaram's ashram in Indore. (PTI Photo)
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.
At least 13 Asaram supporters who attacked four journalists in Jodhpur were arrested for attempt to murder on Saturday. 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.
Asaram arrested from Indore, being brought to Jodhpur