Asaram, a self styled godman is a known rapist, a murder, a land grabber, a homosexual and so on.
The sexual harassment case is not an isolated example for self-styled godman Asaram from prior accusations of exploitation of women and even murder and land grab. Asaram and the powerful Asaram Trust have survived several controversies over the years.
Former devotee, Ashok Thakore, said he allowed Asaram followers to use his 5 acre plot near the main Ashram in Motera, until the Ashram grabbed the land for good. “The ashram said that the land was a donation from my father towards the trust, though I told them it was impossible, they didn’t return the land,” Thakore said.
The Asaram ashram in Surat too, stands on land acquired by the Gujarat government, allegedly encroached on by the Asaram Trust, including land owned by Anil Vyas. “When we went to remove the ashram fencing, they attacked and forced us off the land,” Vyas said.
The Gujarat High Court has asked the Ashram to vacate the land and the matter is with the Supreme Court with Asaram denying all wrongdoing.
In July 2008, 11-year-olds Dipesh and Abhishek went missing at the ashram. Their dead bodies were recovered two days later in the nearby Sabarmati river. Their parents allege the boys were murdered in a black magic ritual at the ashram.
Ayurvedic doctor Amrut Prajapati was associated with Asaram for 18 years till he left in 2005 alleging several wrongdoings. “Asaram has exploited over 1,000 women. Murders have taken place in the ashrams and made to pass off as suicides,” Prajapati alleged.
Over the years all charges against Asaram have failed to stick. The ‘godman’ seems to be above the law because of the following he commands. That makes it all but impossible for the political class to truly take him on.
Who provide protection to this Asaram? Why there is delay in his arrest?
Asaram was seen bragging about his connection with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. “I stay in touch with the Rajasthan Chief Minister, I know him well, he also knows me. He has also come and met me many times,” he said.
With 20 ashrams and six farmhouses, Asaram’s kingdom has floursihed during Gehlot’s first regime. One of his gaushala (cow shed) in Tonk’s Niwai was inaugurated by Gehlot himself in 2000 and was spread in over 50 bighas of land given at just Rs 3,000 per year for a 10-year lease.
Asaram has been manufacturing incense sticks and running a vermi compost plant in violation of the lease deed which prohibits the commercial use of this land. But no one has raised any objection over it so far. Even though the Chief Minister had informed the Union Home Minister about the investigation, there’s no word on Asaram’s arrest.
Gehlot said the investigations are on in the case. “The law is taking its own course and investigations are on. No one must interfere with that. Saints and godman should conduct themselves in a way that befits them,” he said.
Not only the Congress, but the BJP too has had long ties with Asaram. Rajasthan BJP President Vasundhara Raje even attended one of his discourses when she was the Rajasthan Chief Minister. With politicians assessing poll prospects even as the family of the 15-year-old girl demands justice. The women’s groups is now demanding answers on the delay in Asaram’s arrest.