Life for controversial godman Asaram Bapu has just got tougher. After being accused of sexually assaulting a minor in his Jodhpur ashram, Asaram has now been accused of encroaching land and evading rent in Surat.
On Monday, the Gujarat government levied a 18-crore fine on Asaram Bapu's Jahangirpura Ashram in Surat. The ashram has been accused of encroaching land reserved for a water harvesting project in the city.
According to a CNN-IBN report, Surat collector Jai Prakash Shivahare has slapped a fine of Rs 18 crore on Asaram's ashram for allegedly encroaching 34,000 sq meter of land. The ashram has also evaded rent for the period 1996-2010.
This is not the first time that Asaram has had a run-in with the Gujarat state government. Earlier, Asaram's ashrams in Ahmedabad, Pedmala and Bhairvi villages were demolished for encroaching on government land.
Interestingly, Asaram has been effusive in his praise for the Gujarat chief minister. In a speech just before his arrest, Asaram said, "I don't call Modi 'Namo', I call him 'Malll' (warrior). Despite strong opposition for 10 years, Modi has stood his ground. Had there been anyone else, he wouldn't have survived."
This, despite Modi issuing a stern warning to all BJP spokespersons not to defend Asaram in the sexual assault case.
The state government has also ordered a probe into Asaram Bapu's ashrams.
The government has asked for details about Asaram's 40 ashrams, a clear indication that more trouble awaits the self-styled godman.