Jodhpur, INDIA: Asaram was on Sunday quizzed by police in Jodhpur after being flown from Indore where he was arrested after midnight amid high drama for allegedly assaulting a 16-year-old girl at his ashram. 74-year-old Asaram, who was escorted by Rajasthan police personnel led by Additional Commissioner of Police Satish Jnagid, arrived at the airport in Jodhpur on board an Air India flight via Delhi.
After coming out from the airport, Asaram moved into one of the seven luxury vehicles escorted by cops and was taken to Rajasthan Armed Constabulary Battalion Campus in Mandore where he was being interrogated, sources said.
Unprecedented security arrangements were made at the airport, where Asaram faced black flag protests, on the streets, outside and inside Asaram ashrams, and the Mahila Thana (women’s police station) where the case has been lodged.
The convoy was followed by seven buses with armed police personnel.
The godman might be taken for spot verification, DCP Ajay Pal Lamba told reporters Asaram was arrested by the Jodhpur Police after midnight from his ashram in Indore and escorted by a large posse police personnel to the airport, where he spent the night on a sofa in the VIP lounge.
Ahead of his arrival in Jodhpur, a strong posse of security personnel was deployed at the airport.
Unprecedented security arrangements were made at the airport, on the streets, outside and inside Asaram ashrams, and the Mahila Thana (women’s police station) where the case has been lodged.
The father of the 16-year old girl, who has accused Asaram of sexually assauting her, called off his fast-unto-death in nearby Shahajahanpur district soon after the arrest of the godman in Indore.
Circle officer, city, Rajeswar Singh offered the girl’s father juice to end the fast that he began on Saturday morning demanding the immediate arrest of Asaram.
“The first hurdle has been overcome. We will take our fight forward,” the father said after ending his fast after midnight.
He thanked the media saying, “The arrest has been made possible because of their efforts.”
What’s happening in Jodhpur:
5.10pm: Excerpts from Jodhpur commissioner of police on Asaram arrest
Asaram has been sent to one-day custody, says Jodhpur commissioner of police on Asaram arrest.
Jodhpur Police says it wants the custody of Asaram to recreate scene, says he is cooperating in the investigation.
We can’t disclose the kind of evidence we have against Asaram at this point, say police.
The probe is on and Asaram was arrested because his defence was unsatisfactory, he say.
If a new fact come to notice, we will get it verified: police
Asaram is taking food and water; he is fit as per medical reports: Jodhpur Police
4.15pm: Jodhpur Police convene press conference at 5pm.
4pm: Jodhpur Police prepare to produce Asaram in court.
3pm: Three-member doctors’ team reaches RAC 1st Battalion headquarters in Jodhpur for Asaram’s health check-up.
2.30pm: Nearly 100 Asaram supporters gather in front the RAC 1st Battalion headquarters. Police try to convince them to leave.
1.45pm: Team from SN Medical College to reach RAC HQ to check on Asaram shortly.
1:30pm: Police call medical team to RAC HQ in Jodhpur for Asaram’s health check-up.
1pm: Asaram taken to Rajasthan Armed Constabulary (RAC) 1st Battalion HQ at Mandore Road in Jodhpur.
12:30pm: Jodhpur Police has taken Asaram from the airport. He is being taken to a police station.
He was shown black flags while being taken away from Jodhpur.
12.25pm: Asaram reaches Jodhpur. He looked subdued and tired when he came out of the airport.
Deputy commissioner of police Ajaypal Lamba said Asaram would be questioned and then he would be produced before a magistrate. Police has to produce him before a magistrate within 24 hours.
12.15pm: Police say will seek 7-day custody for Asaram.
10.30am: At the airport, where four companies of the RAC have been deployed, several supporters of the controversial godman turned up in a show of strength.
Asaram’s ashram in Pal, 15 km from the city, was evacuated even as the police sealed the Jodhpur borders to prevent his supporters from entering the city.
The city turned into a fortress with the presence of RAC, Hada Rani (women’s battalion) and police personnel across the city.
Policemen in plain clothes were also positioned at various locations even as all vehicles entering the city were being checked.
7.50am: Air India flight AI-635 carrying Asaram left for New Delhi from where he was taken in another flight to Jodhpur.
7.40am: Asaram boards flight from Indore.
What happened on Saturday:
8.40pm: After hours of high drama, nearly 10 police officials enter self-styled godman’s ashram.
Asaram immediately leaves for satsang inside the campus.
8.45pm: His son Narayan Sai makes comes to the ashram gate and tells the media the police have been asked to finish questioning his father by 10pm because he is unwell and has to sleep.
Read: After son, Asaram too questions girl’s credibility
Asaram continues his satsang, where he addresses supporters.
Tells supporters not to agitate if he is arrested. Supporters raise various slogans including “arrest over our bodies”.
Tells supporters he will cooperate with the police, but the state government will have to bear the consequences. Supporters continue raucous sloganeering.
9.20pm: Asaram ends satsang, during which police consider and reject the possibility of taking him out through alternate exits from the ashram.
His supporters block the main gate of the ashram.
9.40pm: Asaram agrees to being questioned.
10.20pm: A police official who does not want to be named says Asaram is not cooperating.
10.40pm: Six to seven more police vehicles arrive.
11.20pm: Ambulance arrives with doctor, triggering talk that Asaram may be shifted to hospital.
11.40pm: Asaram is not feeling well, his lawyer Pushya Karan Bhandari tells reporters. “Now, whatever will happen will happen in morning.”
11.50pm: More police arrive and barricades are put up.
12.25am on Sunday: Eight cars come out of campus. Asaram is in the second one, in the back seat with two police officials.
12.45am: Car reaches Indore airport. Asaram is asked to sit on a sofa.
What is the case
The police complaint filed by the girl in Delhi was transferred Aug 21 to police in Jodhpur where the alleged sexual assault took place.
Asaram was served notice Aug 27 at his ashram in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, asking him to appear before police in Jodhpur for questioning before or on Aug 30.
Asaram has been booked under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and the Indian Penal Code. A look-out circular had also been issued against him to prevent any attempt by him to leave the country.
As per the allegations of the girl who studied at Asaram’s ashram in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhindwara and stayed in a girls’ hostel there, the self-styled godman sexually assaulted her on the pretext of exorcism.
No one is above law: Gehlot
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, who was facing criticism for going soft on Asaram’s arrest, said the law would take its own course. Gehlot, who was also in Jodhpur on Sunday, said strict action would be taken against Asaram, if found guilty.
“If found guilty, anyone, no matter how influential, should get strict punishment,” he told reporters at Jodhpur airport. He was criticised by the BJP for trying to politicise the issue.
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