India

Asaram interrogated for 4 hours, remanded to one-day police custody

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JODHPUR: Self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at his ashram, was today questioned by Jodhpur police for about four hours after being flown from Indore where he was arrested after midnight amid high drama.

Asaram, 72, was later produced before district and sessions judge (rural) Manoj K Vyas who remanded him to one-day police custody. Asaram will be taken to his Manai ashram, 30km from Jodhpur, where the police will try to recreate the scene to verify the charge against him, Jodhpur Police commissioner Biju George Joseph told reporters here.

There are still some issues that need to be worked out for a “watertight” case against Asaram, he said. Joseph said a medical test was carried out on Asaram and there was nothing to suggest that he was unwell. Asaram had claimed that he could not meet the deadline of August 30 given by the Jodhpur police to appear before it as his health condition had deteriorated.

Doctors will also carry out a potency test on Asaram, who has denied rape charges lodged against him by the schoolgirl, the police commissioner said. He refuted reports that Asaram was on a hunger fast and refusing to eat or drink anything. “He is taking food and water,” Joseph said. Asaram was brought by Rajasthan police team led by additional commissioner of police Satish Jnagid.

They were flown via Delhi in an Air India flight at about 12.30pm. He was taken to Rajasthan Armed Constabulary Battalion campus in Mandore where he was interrogated for four hours, police said. Unprecedented security arrangements were made at the airport. Asaram’s supporters shouted slogans at the Delhi and Jodhpur airports.

A report from Mumbai said they also stopped trains at Ulhasnagar’s railway tracks in the neighbouring Thane district shortly after noon. Asaram was arrested by the Jodhpur Police after midnight from his ashram in Indore and escorted by a large posse of police personnel to the airport, where he spent the night on a sofa in the VIP lounge.

His arrest followed an FIR filed by the girl alleging she was sexually assaulted by Asaram at his ashram in this Rajasthan city.

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