Police clueless about Asaram’s whereabouts

Police were Saturday clueless about the whereabouts of Asaram Bapu, who is believed to have fled his Bhopal ashram, as Jodhpur police was on his trail for arresting him in connection with the charge of sexual assault of a minor girl.

A large number of his supporters gathered outside his ashram at Khandwa Road in Indore while his whereabouts are not known after he left Bhopal in a vehicle last evening.

The self-styled godman was summoned by Rajasthan police for questioning in connection with a case of alleged sexual assault but Asaram did not appear before them Friday when the deadline expired.

In view of the presence of large number of his supporters at his ashram in Indore, police have deployed their personnel near the premises.

“In view of a large number of Asaram supporters gathering in the ashram, adequate police force has been deployed around it. Senior officials are keeping an eye over the situation,” Bhanwarkuan police station in-charge Ashok Tiwari told reporters.

Tiwari claimed Indore police had no information about the whereabouts of the 72-year-old religious preacher, who has been accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old schoolgirl, who was an inmate of his ashram in Jodhpur.

Specifically asked if Asaram is present in his Indore ashram, the official said he has no idea.

He said the Jodhpur police, probing the case, has not contacted their Indore counterparts so far on the issue.

After leaving Bhopal Friday, Asaram, along with his son Narayan Sai, was reportedly spotted in a sport utility vehicle at the Dewas Toll Naka here.

The police, however, did not confirm the same.

Earlier in the day, supporters of Asaram Bapu allegedly attacked a TV reporter and a cameraman at his Jodhpur ashram, leaving them injured.

“We came here for coverage on information that Asaram’s supporter were arriving from different places. As we reached, some of his followers targeted us and snatched our camera. The locals came to our rescue,” the TV reporter alleged.

Police have detained six persons in connection with the attack.

“We have identified and detained six persons from the ashram. Other involved in the attack are also being rounded up,” the police said.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot condemned the attack on media persons outside the Jodhpur ashram of the self-styled godman.

“I condemn the attack. It was an act of uncivilised people. The law will take its own course and action will be taken against all those involved in the crime,” Gehlot told reporters on the sidelines of a function in Jaipur.

Gehlot said police was handling the case properly and no one will be allowed to disturb the law and order situation.

Police have also asked followers of Asaram, who have gathered outside the Jodhpur ashram, to leave.

DCP Jodhpur Ajay Lamba said that borders of the district have been sealed and followers of Asaram will not be allowed to enter the city.

“We have also asked neighbouring districts to make sure that the supporters are not mobilised,” Lamba said.

The Jodhpur police had Friday rejected Asaram’s plea for extending the deadline for his appearance and headed towards Madhya Pradesh to interrogate him.

“We had received a fax from bapu Friday stating that on account of his ill-health and death of his relative, he was not able to come in stipulated time and sought more time for appearance before the police for investigation. But we have decided not to give him any relief as we have no strong ground to believe, what he said in the fax,” Lamba had said.

Regarding the possibility of Asaram’s arrest, Lamba had said that as of now the police had adequate and strong evidence against him enabling it to make an arrest but it will give him a chance to prove him innocent during his interrogation.

“If he does not have concrete defence he will be arrested,” Lamba had said.

Asaram is accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old schoolgirl and inmate of his Jodhpur ashram.

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