[ UPDATE: Shiva has been acquitted by the learned trial court in the a 453-page judgment, passed by the Special Judge (SC/ST court) Madhusudhan Sharma on 25 April 2018, convicting Asaram and others.]
Asaram Bapu regularly met women alone at night in his dhyan ki kutiya (meditation hut) to heal them,Shiva,the personal attendant of the religious guru,has told the police,Rajasthan additional advocate general Anand Purohit informed the sessions and district magistrate (Rural) on Wednesday.
Details provided by Shiva,whom the police have been interrogating since Sunday,strengthen the case against Asaram,Purohit said. The guru has been accused of sexually assaulting the minor daughter of a disciple inside his Jodhpur ashram on the night of August 15.
The magistrate rejected Asarams plea for bail and left him in judicial custody. The court gave the police custody of Shiva for another three days.
Investigators said they have substantial evidence to conclude that Asaram,Shiva and Shilpi,the hostel warden,conspired to get the 16-year-old victim to Jodhpur from Chhindwara where she studied. Call detail records show Shilpi had been in constant touch with both Asaram and the girls family,and that the contact grew very frequent in the week before the girl was allegedly assaulted,they said.
Sources close to the investigation said they believe Shilpi and Asaram discussed the condition and movement of the girl,and that Shilpi reassured Asaram that he would get the opportunity to heal her.
Call records show Shilpi to have been in touch also with Shiva,who was allegedly instructed to escort the family to Asarams doorstep. Shiva could not,however,receive them at Jodhpur railway station,and instead asked them to take an auto,whose driver he spoke with by phone to give directions to Asarams Manai ashram.
The sources said investigators had reason to believe that some text messages were also exchanged between the accused,and that investigators were trying to retrieve them. Shilpi remains on the run,as does Sharad,the warden of the Chhindwara hostel.
Purohit told The Indian Express that Asaram had asked the girls father for a kutiya so that he could hold satsangs at his home in UP. The minors parents were such staunch followers that they would speak to Asarams photo and make daily offerings to it. The accused was certain that even if the girl complained to her parents,they would not believe her. He was confident he would be able to manipulate them. It is a clear case of a cold-blooded conspiracy,and therefore Section 120 B of IPC (criminal conspiracy) has been added to the case against Asaram,Shiva and Shilpi, Purohit said.
Asaram,who allegedly spent an hour and a half inside his cell alone with the girl on the night of the alleged assault,is thought to have threatened to kill her if she spoke about what had happened.
The prosecution on Wednesday rejected the defence argument that the medico-legal certificate did not prove rape,and told the court that there was clear evidence in the report of tampering of the vagina.
The prosecution cited Section 376 of IPC which,following an amendment that came into force on April 2,2013,states that sexual assault includes the insertion,to any extent,any object or a part of the body,not being the penis,into the vagina,urethra or anus of another person or makes the person do so with him or any other person,where the vagina shall also include labia majora.
The prosecution also produced a school document that confirmed the victims year of birth to be 1997 to counter the doubts expressed by the defence about her age.
SATSANG IN JAIL
Asaram Bapu has obliged his many followers among the prisoners at Jodhpur jail and held satsangs with them during permissible hours,sources said. The guru is lodged in the first barrack next to the hospital ward with five other inmates,two of whom are his followers who were arrested for attacking the media on Sunday. Fruits and Ganga water are being supplied to Asaram by local devotees,the sources said.
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