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Cops gear up to question Asaram in Jodhpur

by fwire  Sep 1, 2013 23:30 IST

Jaipur, Sep 1 (IANS) Arrested spiritual guru Asaram Bapu, facing allegations of sexual assault, will be questioned at Police Lines near Mandore in Jodhpur and, if needed, taken to his ashram for physical verification, a Rajasthan Police official said Sunday.

A Rajasthan Police team flew Asaram Bapu, 72, to Jodhpur city, over 350 km from here, in the afternoon after arresting him past midnight Saturday from his ashram in Indore in Madhya Pradesh in a sexual assault case lodged against him by a 16-year-old girl.

Depending upon the outcome of Asaram's questioning, he may be taken to his asharm over 35 km from Jodhpur city for physical verification, a police official told IANS.

The spiritual leader will also be presented before a magistrate for seeking his police custody, he said.

Earlier in the day, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that no actor, politician or any other person was above law.

"Let the law take its own course," he said.

Talking to media persons in Jodhpur, Gehlot said: "The police should be allowed to do its job of unbiased investigation. We want that whoever is guilty should be punished."

The chief minister said police have made elaborate arrangement for maintaining law and order in Jodhpur.

"Heavy police force has been deployed at his ashram in Jodhpur, and the court where he will be presented and the police station concerned," said a police officer.

The girl lodged a complaint at a police station in Delhi Aug 20, accusing Asaram of sexually assaulting her at his ashram in Jodhpur. Asaram has denied the charge, and his son has claimed the girl was "mentally unstable".

Asaram has been booked under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and the Indian Penal Code.

According to the allegations of the girl, who studied at Asaram's ashram in Madhya Pradesh's Chhindwara and stayed in a girls' hostel there, the guru sexually assaulted her on the pretext of exorcism.

Police also summoned hostel warden Shilpi, hostel attendant Keshav and Asaram Bapu's caretaker Shiva for questioning Thursday.

"One of them - Shiva - appeared before police yesterday. He is being interrogated," said the officer.

Asaram has blamed Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi for his legal tangles. The Congress has rubbished the allegation.