Asaram Bapu outside Jodhpur court
Spiritual leader Asaram Bapu, who has been in jail for more than two months, has denied that he sexually assaulted a school girl at his ashram or retreat in Jodhpur in Rajasthan in August.
In court today, the Rajasthan Police furnished over 1300 pages that outline the case and the evidence against the 71 -year-old. The police's charges against him include sexual assault, raping and illegally confining a minor.
But the police has also said today in a court in Jodhpur that the religious preacher did not act alone. It claims that four others - three attendants and the warden of the hostel where the school girl was enrolled in Madhya Pradesh - participated in a criminal conspiracy to allow Asaram Bapu access to her. So along with their employer, they have been charged with trafficking.
The 16-year-old's parents, long-time followers of Asaram Bapu, sent her to study at the school that was attached to his ashram in Chindwara in Madhya Pradesh six years ago. This year, they began getting complaints from the hostel warden who said their daughter appeared possessed by evil spirits which only Asaram Bapu could exorcise.
The warden and Asaram Bapu's aides then allegedly arranged for the girl to travel with her parents to meet with him at his Jodhpur retreat. In an hour alone with her, the parents were told, he would banish the evil spirits that had taken control of her.
Two days later, the girl told her parents that she had been sexually assaulted. Her father says that Asaram Bapu and his aides warned of damaging consequences if they reported the matter to the police.
He says he ignored those threats because he wants justice for his daughter.
Just over a month after this case was registered, two sisters in Gujarat accused Asaram Bapu and his son, Narayan Sai, of molesting them at a pair of ashrams. That case is being investigated by the Gujarat Police.