As many as 23 followers of Asaram Bapu were arrested for allegedly assaulting mediapersons and damaging their equipment, as the controversial self-styled godman drew flak from media over wastage of water at a pre-Holi function organised by him in drought-hit Maharashtra.
“A total 23 people have been arrested late last night in connection with the attack on media persons,” said an official at Rabale police station in neighbouring Navi Mumbai city.
Police used video footage, witness accounts and photographs to nail the accused, the official said, adding that more arrests were likely.
The accused were apparently angry at criticism by media of Asaram Bapu over wastage of water at a pre-Holi function by him in Navi Mumbai, at a time when Maharashtra is facing its worst-ever drought in more than four decades.
While Maharashtra MLAs had raised the issue in the state Legislature of Asaram and his followers “wasting” water at Sunday’s event in Nagpur, the Municipal Corporation there had said it was sending a notice to him for misuse of water tankers provided by the civic body.
A social activist had even approached the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court to restrain Asaram and general public from wasting water during the Holi festival.
Asaram Bapu has been mired in controversies and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs had recently said it received complaints against him and his son in an alleged 700-acre land grabbing case and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) is looking into the matter.