Self-styled godman arrested for raping two minors for 3 days at Haryana ashram
A self-styled godman was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly raping two girls, aged 14 and 15, repeatedly over three days at his ashram in Raipur Rani block, about 25 kilometres from the Panchkula district headquarters.
The accused, Swami Lakshyanand Saraswati, 47, belongs to Ambala and runs Sanatan Sanyas Ashram at Chota Trilokpur village in Raipur Rani. He was reportedly booked for raping a woman follower at the ashram last year too, but the complaint was later found to be fake.
The girls reside in Baddi area of Solan district, Himachal Pradesh, and had come to the ashram to perform ‘sewa’ (voluntary service) on Saturday (January 25). The 15-year-old girl’s two brothers — one elder and the other younger — were also accompanying them.
“One of the girl studies in Class 9 while the other is a school dropout. Their families reside in the same locality in Baddi and are followers of the self-styled godman,” said assistant commissioner of police (ACP) Noopur Bishnoi, women police station, Sector 5, Panchkula.
The accused allegedly raped them when their brothers were sleeping in another room at night. They kept quiet for the fear of their lives. However, on returning home of Tuesday, they narrated the ordeal to their mothers, following which they approached police and lodged a complaint
Medical examination of the girls that was conducted at the Panchkula civil hospital on Tuesday confirmed rape. The girls also recorded their statements before the magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, said the ACP.
Arrested after raids
Women police station house officer (SHO) Neha Chauhan said the girls’ families first approached the Baddi police station where a daily diary register (DDR) entry was made. Later, cops took the victims to the Raipur Rani police station, from where the case was referred to women police station for further proceedings.
A case was registered under Section 376 (2)(n) (committing rape repeatedly on the same woman) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 6 (aggravated penetrative sexual assault) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
ACP Bishnoi said on visiting the ashram, police found the premises locked. “No one was seen there or even nearby,” she said. The accused was arrested after conducting raids at possible hideouts.
Bishnoi said Swami Lakshyanand was booked on rape charges last year too. “However, during the course of investigation, the allegation was found to be fake and the FIR was cancelled. We are trying to get more details about the ashram and its workings,” she said.
ABOUT THE ASHRAM
Sanatan Sanyas Ashram, set up over half an acre land at Chota Trilokpur village in Raipur Rani, has been running for the past 10 years, claim locals.
Swami Lakshyanand Saraswati, 47, belongs to Ambala, and has also set up a Sai temple on the ashram premises.
“Local villagers, except some influential people, were not allowed to enter the premises. Most of the followers who come here are from Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. Their numbers, however, were quite limited, as decided by the ashram management,” said a local, requesting anonymity.