Jaipur/New Delhi: Asaram Bapu was Tuesday served a notice asking him to appear before Rajasthan Police for questioning in connection with a sexual assault case registered against him by a 16-year-old girl even as the spiritual guru denied the charges.
A police team delivered the notice at his ashram in Indore. Jodhpur's Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Ajay Pal Lamba told IANS that a police team managed to deliver the notice to Asaram personally after eight hours of haggling with the godman's supporters.
"The devotees said he was in meditation, so our team waited there for eight hours before they managed to personally hand over the summons to Asaram Bapu," said the official.
Supporters of the guru shouted slogans against the police action.
The girl had made a complaint at a police station in Delhi on Aug 20, accusing Asaram Bapu of sexually assaulting her at his ashram in Rajasthan's Jodhpur city, police said.
A first information report (FIR) was registered against Asaram Bapu in Jodhpur after receiving a copy of the complaint from Delhi Police on Aug 21.
A notice had also been served at Asaram's Ahmedabad ashram in Gujarat Monday.
Asaram Bapu has been booked under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and the Indian Penal Code.
A police team also inspected the spiritual guru's ashram near Jodhpur and recorded statements of several people to verify whether the girl and her parents were present at the ashram on Aug 15 when the alleged incident took place.
"During preliminary investigation, it has come up that the girl and her parents and Asaram Bapu were present on Aug 15. The owner of the land, which is being used for the ashram, told police that the girl and her parents had come to the ashram to meet him," said the official.
Asaram Bapu has denied the molestation charges. "Her parents were sitting outside (the ashram room). How could they not have heard if she would have cried out. I am supposed to have held her mouth for over one and a half hours," he told ABP news.
He said after the incident, the girl went and met some friends nearby and didn't tell them anything. "She told her friends nothing. I can produce the friends."
The spiritual guru denied meeting the girl alone. "It is completely false."
He said "the truth will come out" and he was not worried as he had faced worse allegations in the past.
"I do not intend to take anticipatory bail but it all depends on my followers," he said.
Political leaders have demanded strong action against him.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said: "The Rajasthan government should not allow such people to go scot free."
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said instead of "running away", the spiritual guru should present himself before the Jodhpur police to assist the probe.
Communist Party of India's Gurudas Dasgupta said: "Can you believe the brutality, the dehumanisation. I feel ashamed myself."
Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav said: "There are lots of good saints, but he is a businessman and belongs to the land mafia. He sells wrong medicines."