Jodhpur police on Monday issued a notice to self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, asking him to appear for interrogation within four days in connection with the sexual assault case registered against him by a 16-year-old girl.
Asaram, currently in Indore, was booked a week ago for allegedly sexually assaulting the teenager at his Jodhpur ashram. The girl had lodged a complaint at a police station in Delhi on August 20.
“A sub-inspector rank officer has been sent to Ahmedabad where he will deliver the notice to Asaram Bapu. He has been asked to appear before police within the next four days,” said a senior police official.
The official said the notice will be executed at the Ahmedabad ashram whether Asaram Bapu was found there or not. “Asaram Bapu will be interrogated when he makes himself available for questioning,” he said.
Asaram has been booked under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and other sections of the Indian Penal Code.
A police team inspected the spiritual guru's ashram near Jodhpur on Thursday and recorded statements of several people to verify whether the girl and her parents were at the ashram on August 15, when the girl was allegedly sexually assaulted.
During preliminary investigation, it has come up that the girl and her parents were present along with Asaram Bapu in the ashram on August 15.
The owner of the land, which is being used for the ashram, told police that the girl and her parents had come to ashram to meet him, said the official.
Meanwhile, Asaram continues to deny the allegations. On Sunday, the 72-year-old claimed that he was innocent and regarded the minor as his "daughter".
“I feel very sad when this girl is termed as a rape victim. She is like my daughter, grand-daughter or niece,” said Asaram during a discourse at his ashram located on Khandwa Road.
“She is not a victim... far from that. The rape victim is the one who is violated but this girl is pure in my view.”
Asaram alleged that Hindu saints were deliberately being maligned as part of a larger conspiracy. “Baseless allegations are levelled against me because I preach Indian culture during my discourses. In the past four and a half years, I have been accused of practising black magic as well as tantric practices, but the accusations could not stand legal scrutiny.”
He added, “Allegations are levelled against me, especially in the months of July and August, because this is the period when monsoon frogs come out in open.”
Asked if he would file a petition seeking anticipatory bail in the case, Asaram said no. He evaded a query on whether he would produce himself before the police team investigating the case.
Asaram said he would hold discourses across the country for jail inmates who are innocent and, if needed, he would help them get legal aid.
(With inputs from IANS)