Asaram devotees plough lonely furrow at Jantar Mantar

Image: Sapan Kapoor/NewsGram

New Delhi: Self-styled Godman Asaram has been lodged in a Jodhpur jail since September 1, 2013 for allegedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in his ashram. There is little chance that he would be released anytime soon. However, his supporters camped at Jantar Mantar – the officially designated protest site in the national capital – see a ray of hope in actor Salman Khan’s acquittal in the hit-and-run case.

Kishan Murari, a saint from Ayodhya, has been camping out at Jantar Mantar – along with a dozen other devotees – so as to press his demand for Asaram’s release. He has also been counting the days his Bapu has been incarcerated.

“838 days,” Murari points out towards the number scribed on a white board, as he hands over a booklet to me in defense of Asaram and excoriates the media for working on an “agenda” against the latter.

Asaram was arrested from his ashram at Indore in Madhya Pradesh and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013 on a complaint by a 16-year-old girl, accusing him of sexually assaulting her at his ashram near Jodhpur.

Image: Sapan Kapoor/NewsGram
Image: Sapan Kapoor/NewsGram

In her complaint, she alleged that Asaram’s aides sent her to his Jodhpur ashram on the pretext that she was under the influence of an “evil spirit” and he could perform an exorcism. The Godman has been in jail since then, and hearing of rape case is going on a day to day basis.

“Look at these hundreds of people who have been hungry for the past three days demanding Cooch Behar. Yet nobody from the media has bothered to report on them. All you journalists are crooks. Tum sab bikey hue ho (You all are sold out)”, the Asaram devotee thunders, as he asks me to read the booklet and work towards securing Bapu’s release.

“But isn’t it the prerogative of courts? How can we secure his freedom? It’s ultimately the judiciary that will decide his fate,” I try to educate him.

“The judiciary is corrupt; the government is corrupt; you are a crook too. You’re not even an Indian. All you media persons want is nothing but money. If we threw money at you, you’ll start dancing on our tunes as well,” he says in an angry vein.

The charges against the septuagenarian saint are serious and need to be investigated. However, he is innocent until proven guilty, I try to assure him.

“Where’s the country’s judiciary? In the police complaint filed by the girl, there’s no mention of rape. It’s not mentioned in the FIR and the medical report. As per the medical report her virginity was intact. No marks of injuries were found on her body. Yet, a conspiracy has been hatched against an innocent saint like Asaram and in a well-planned manner he has been incriminated by the media. An actor like Salman Khan can be acquitted of serious charges like murder but not Bapu,” Murari rues as he waves his fists in the air.

“Is there anything you want to add?”

“No, you may leave now. It’s time for our evening prayer in which we shall pray for Bapu’s release. Only God can help us now.”