Asaram’s alleged henchman Karthik Haldar, suspected of shooting dead three key witnesses of two rape cases against the self-styled godman and his son Narayan Sai, planned to acquire an AK-47 rifle for eliminating other witnesses, police said.
Haldar, a sharp-shooter and staunch follower of Asaram, was arrested from Raipur in Chhattisgarh on March 13 in a joint operation by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and the city Crime Branch.
He is now in the custody of Rajasthan Police for further probe, city Crime Branch’s Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) K N Patel said on Monday.
During his interrogation here, Haldar admitted that he wanted to acquire an AK-47 rifle or a similar capacity “large” weapon to carry out the killings, Patel said.
“In his statement, Haldar admitted that other sadhaks (disciples) of Asaram collected Rs 25 lakhs to fund the operation of eliminating the witnesses. In a meeting with these sadhaks, it was decided that a large weapon, such as AK-47, must be acquired to carry out the killings,” he said.
“To arrange an AK-47 or a similar capacity weapon, Haldar paid Rs 11 lakhs to a person in Jharkhand, who promised to arrange an AK-47. However, Haldar told us that he never received the weapon as that person cheated and gave only a double-barrel gun, which Haldar used to fire at Mahendra Chawla last year at Panipat in Haryana,” the ACP said.
Chawla, Asaram’s former personal assistant who later turned a witness against him, had survived the attack.
Apart from the key witnesses, Haldar had also hatched a plan to kill the then Investigation Officer (IO) in the rape case filed against Asaram in Jodhpur.
“In his statement, Haldar admitted that he wanted to kill Jodhpur ACP Chanchal Mishra, who was the IO of rape case in Jodhpur. In his statement, Haldar told us that he even did a recce of daily route used by the woman officer to commute between her office and home. However, Haldar could not execute his plans,” Patel said.