Asaram supporters beat up journalists in Jodhpur

PTI, JODHPUR | 31 August 2013 13:39 IST

Journalists bleeding near Asaram ashram

Supporters of Asaram Bapu allegedly attacked a TV reporter and a cameraman at his ashram in Jodhpur as Rajasthan Police headed to Bhopal to interrogate the self-styled godman and make an arrest if he does not provide "concrete" defence.

Asaram's supporters attacked the two mediapersons, leaving them injured.

"We came here for coverage on information that Asaram's supporter were arriving from different places. As we reached, some of his followers targeted us and snatched our camera and locals came to our rescue," the TV journalist alleged.

He alleged that police officers did not respond to their phone calls.

Police said medical examination of both the mediapersons will be conducted and action will be taken against those involved in the attack.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari has condemned the attack on the media.

"Those people who are the followers of a religious preacher who preaches peace would react in a manner which is so violent. There can be no provocation for any individual for not liking their views, I am sure the Rajasthan government will take action," Tewari said. 

As the chorus for action against 72-year-old Asaram grew loud, the Jodhpur Police on Friday rejected his plea for extending the deadline for his appearance and headed towards Bhopal to interrogate him.

"We had received a fax from bapu yesterday stating that on account of his ill-health and death of his relative, he was not able to come in stipulated time and sought more time for appearance before the police for investigation. But we have decided not to give him any relief as we have no strong ground to believe, what he said in the fax", Jodhpur DCP Ajay Pal Lamba had said.

Regarding the possibility of Asaram's arrest, Lamba had said that as of now the police had adequate and strong evidence against him enabling it to make an arrest but it will give him a chance to prove him innocent during his interrogation.

Asaram is accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old schoolgirl and inmate of his Jodhpur ashram.


Referring to the grounds for his plea for extending the deadline, especially ill-health, Lamba had said the investigating team will examine the veracity of his plea and then only it will be decided whether he needs time or not.

"If there is strong ground justifying his plea, we may consider relaxation on humanitarian ground", Lamba said.

In his fax, Asaram had has also stated that "Not only me but my followers are also in deep trauma following allegations of sexual exploitation on me and this trauma took the life of one of my relative. So every move of police should be driven by humanitarian angle".

The fax said that police should take care that his followers are not traumatised. "At least in case of a saint, police must keep this in mind", the fax said.

In the fax, Asaram stated that he will himself appear before police once he was fine.

Police Commissioner Biju George Joseph said, "We would consider any relaxation only on the basis of a strong ground".

Meanwhile, a large number of Asaram's followers from all across the state have started assembling at his Jodhpur ashram at Pal Road.

About a dozen buses carrying his followers have arrived here and all arrangements to accommodate them are being put up in ashram by the Yog Vedant Seva Samiti.

A member of the Samiti said all followers of Asaram are coming to express their devotion and trust in him. "We are making all arrangements for them and are of the strong view that he is innocent".

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