Spiritual guru Asaram Babu was arrested here late Saturday night by Jodhpur police over allegation of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in his ashram, official sources said.
“He has been arrested,” a senior police official told IANS.
Asaram was arrested after lengthy questioning in his ashram here, sources said, adding that he would be taken to Jodhpur.
The 72-year-old has been booked under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and the Indian Penal Code. Earlier, a look-out circular was also issued against him to prevent any attempt by him to leave the country.
Earlier in the day, the victim’s family started a 24-hour hunger strike in Shahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh demanding Asaram Bapu’s immediate arrest.
Later, talking to media, Ajay Lamba, the deputy commissioner of police, Jodhpur, said they would question the guru. The team has reached Indore and will examine Asaram’s medical report prepared by the hospital.
Asaram Bapu’s son, Narayan Sai, told reporters in Indore that his father was “not in hiding” but in hospital. “Police are welcome to question him anytime,” he told reporters.
“He is innocent and no rape took place. He is not hiding and has been admitted due to ill health,” he added, without naming the hospital where the guru was hospitalised.
On Tuesday, Asaram Bapu was served notice at his ashram in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, asking him to appear before police in Jodhpur for questioning before or on Aug 30. However, he sought more time and played a cat-and-mouse game with police the whole of Friday.
Since early morning large number of Asaram’s supporters gathered at the spiritual guru’s Bhopal and Indore ashrams, as news spread that he could be in one of these two places.
Fearing law and order breakdown, a large posse of policemen were stationed at three ashrams of the guru, a Hindu preacher who was born in Sindh province of Pakistan before his family migrated to near Ahmedabad in Gujarat.
In Jodhpur, the religious preacher’s supporters attacked mediapersons, seriously injuring two.
Asaram Bapu, who hit the headlines last December for his remarks that the Delhi gang rape victim would have been spared if only she had addressed her assaulters as brothers, faced arrest after a 16-year-old girl lodged a complaint with police Aug 20, accusing him of sexually assaulting her at his Jodhpur ashram.
He has denied the charge with his son saying that the girl was “mentally unstable”.
Asaram Bapu has instead blamed Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi for his predicament.