Asaram brought to Ahmedabad amid tight security,taken to ATS office for questioninghttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/asaram-brought-to-ahmedabad-amid-tight-security-taken-to-ats-office-for-questioning/

Asaram brought to Ahmedabad amid tight security,taken to ATS office for questioning

Self-styled godman Asaram was brought to Ahmedabad from Jodhpur on Monday evening by a team of Ahmedabad police officers.

Self-styled godman Asaram was brought to Ahmedabad from Jodhpur on Monday evening by a team of Ahmedabad police officers. Instead of Sabarmati Central Jail,he was taken to the Anti Terrorist Squad office on SG Highway to ensure safety and security during his interrogation in the Surat sisters’ rape case.

Asaram was brought by a Jet Airways flight that arrived here at 6:30 pm. Amid tight security of police and airport officials,he was taken to the ATS office in a police convoy of eight vehicles. A security cordon of three superintendents of police,eight inspectors and 250 CISF personnel was set up at the Ahmedabad airport. After his arrival,Asaram was taken out through the VIP gate,the police said.

Sources said that a special investigation team,headed by JCP J K Bhatt,took him in custody for primary investigation in the case.

Asaram was initially going to be taken to the district court in Gandhinagar before being taken to Gandhinagar police headquarters for interrogation. However,seeing a crowd of supporters of the self-styled godman,the police decided to take Asaram to the ATS office on the outskirts of Ahmedabad,sources said.

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Gandhinagar had turned into a fortress with tight bandobast of more than 400 policemen around the district court. Roads leading to the court were cordoned off for a couple of hours in the evening expecting Asaram’s arrival. The police had set up iron barricades in the court to avoid crowd from entering the premises. Gandhinagar SP Sharad Singhal said,“We had provided tight security at district court and Gandhinagar police headquarters where he was expected to be brought. This security arrangement would remain in Gandhinagar till he is produced in the court. The police have 24 hours for interrogation before taking him to the court.”

The police had received a transit warrant from Gandhinagar court to get Asaram’s custody from Jodhpur. He was lodged in Jodhpur Central Jail in a sexual assault case. A city police team was camping in Jodhpur since one week. However,with the Jodhpur court giving another 14 days remand to the police there,the city police team had to wait to receive permission from the Jodhpur court.

In the Surat sisters’ rape case,the elder one accused Asaram of repeated sexual assaults between 1997 and 2006 when she was living in his ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad,while the younger one accused Asaram’s son Narayan Sai of repeated sexual assaults between 2002 and 2005 when she was living in Surat ashram.

The SIT collected evidence before getting Asaram’s custody from Jodhpur. The SIT registered statements of the victim after taking her to the spot of the incidents at Asaram’s Motera ashram and Shanti Kutir,a farmhouse.

A SIT official said,“The victim narrated the entire incident on how she was kept at the ashram and forced for acts with Asaram. The victim narrated the incident and showed locations where girls coming to the ashram were taken by Asaram for such acts. The narration was video recorded for six hours. The farmhouse had places secluded from the ashram and main road where even ashram officials were not allowed.” The victim told the police that girls were given sedatives as prasad and then sexually exploited. When the victims regained consciousness,they were told that they must take these ‘incidents’ as ‘blessings’ of Asaram and keep quiet,a SIT officer said. Substances sold in the name of medicines,syrups and pills were seized from the ashram. SIT officials said that Asaram would be grilled on these points as per evidence and statements of victims. Asaram is likely to be produced in court or before a district magistrate after his primary interrogation is over. The Ahmedabad police will seek his remand from the court for further interrogation.