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Blindly following Asaram was ‘big mistake’,says victim’s father

The father donated his land and supervised construction of Asaram's ashram in Shajahanpur.

Written by RAMENDRA SINGH | Shahjahanpur | Published: September 2, 2013 8:31 pm

He has taken down the signboard showing the way to the ashram of Asaram Bapu here that he once proudly displayed outside his house.

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The father of the girl allegedly sexually assaulted by the self-styled godman wishes it was as easy for him to erase his association with the man.

He didn’t just regard whatever Asaram told him as “Brahma vakya (the word of god)”,he says,but also donated land and supervised the construction of Asaram’s ashram in Shajahanpur city,located around 150 km from Lucknow.

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Five years ago,he shifted his children from local schools here to Asaram’s gurukul in Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.

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That faith of 11 years got shattered,the father says,when Asaram “assaulted” his 16-year-old daughter at his ashram in Jodhpur on August 15. Policemen are now deployed at their house here to keep outsiders away. Sitting inside with a few the neighbours,the father says Asaram is “very powerful” and they have received “threats” from his supporters.

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On hunger strike at the Shahjahanpur Collectorate seeking Asaram’s arrest,the father broke his fast late on Saturday night.

A successful businessman,the father first came into contact with Asaram at a satsang in Bareilly. Influenced by his discourses,he became a devout follower,chanting a “guru mantra” for more than two hours every morning,and visiting Asaram wherever he held satsangs.

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“After my first meeting with him,I brought a copy of Rishi Prasad (a magazine of Asaram’s trust) with me. Soon I made him my guru and started to follow whatever he preached. I distributed lakhs of copies of Rishi Prasad here.

I told students to follow Asaram’s preachings. I thought my guru was my god and I will achieve sadgati (deliverance) on death,” he says.

Locals recall the father’s contribution in spreading Asaram’s ideology,including holding annual meetings with much fanfare. “Asaram once told me ‘Meri kutiya banwa do (build a hut for me)’ and I bought a piece of land,donated it to Asaram’s trust and constructed the ashram there,” says the father.

He also became president of the trust’s Shahjahanpur unit. Such was his involvement that he had to hand over responsibility of managing the family business to his elder son.

The ashram,spread over three acres,started functioning in 2011 and Asaram came for a satsang once. A heavy police force now guards this ashram and the few sadhus inside.

The father says his daughter cried all the way home from Asaram’s Jodhpur ashram after the alleged assault. “I asked my wife to talk to her but she was too scared to say anything. It was only after coming home that she told her mother what had happened. We were furious. My wife said let’s go and pull out the beard of that baba. Right then,we left for Delhi where a satsang of Asaram was being held at Ramlila Maidan. However,my wife urged me not to go there fearing attack by his followers. We then went to the nearest police station,” he says.

He says while police declined to lodge an FIR saying the alleged incident had taken place in Jodhpur,they had to relent after he warned he would hold a sit-in outside Parliament. “We were taken to the DCP and he got the statements of the three of us recorded. Police also got my daughter’s statement recorded before a magistrate and lodged an FIR,which was later transferred to Jodhpur.”

After the complaint was filed on August 20,they spent the next two days in Delhi in fear,says the father. “I knew the power of this man. I knew people madly follow him. I declined to go to Jodhpur but it was after Delhi Police officials accompanied us that we went there. The Jodhpur police lodged the FIR after visiting the scene of the crime,” he says.

He also feared for the safety of his younger son,who was still at the gurukul in Chhindwara. The girl had been in Class VII and the boy in Class III when he had sent them to the gurukul,he says,“on Asaram’s suggestion”. He has since gone to Chhindwara and fetched the son.

“The careers of my daughter and younger son appear ruined. I have not thought of resuming their education at any other place because of the threats. Even though there is security,we are afraid. There was one person who came inside my house and made a video recording as I talked to my family members and relatives. They are searching for contradictions in my statements,” he says.

He is determined to carry on the fight,he adds. “I made a big mistake by blindly following Asaram,but I want my daughter to get justice. He should be given severe punishment and be hanged so that several other daughters and mothers are saved,” he says,adding that he will give away the ashram land for a project like a cow shelter.

He also realises why his fight will be tough. “When I was his follower I did not believe that any allegation against Baba was true. I know there are people who madly follow him and they can do anything.”

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