Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh: A key witness in the rape case against self-styled godman Asaram Bapu was shot at in Uttar Pradesh's Shahjahanpur on Friday, making it the ninth attack against witnesses so far.
35-year-old Kripal Singh was on his way home on a motorcycle last night when two unidentified men allegedly came on a bike from behind and the person riding pillion opened fire at him. The duo also allegedly warned him against deposing against Asaram Bapu and fled from the scene.
Mr Singh, who received bullet injuries in the back, was rushed to Bareilly where his condition is stated to be critical.
"He was coming back from the market when two men shot him from the back... He is a witness in the Asaram case... They warned him that if he deposed against him, they wouldn't leave him," said the father of a 16-year-old schoolgirl who has accused the 74-year-old guru of sexually assaulting her at his ashram near Jodhpur in Rajasthan in 2013.
The father of the girl said that Mr Singh's statement in the case against Asaram Bapu had been recorded three months ago. In a statement given to the Additional City Magistrate, Mr Singh had alleged that people linked to Asaram Bapu had been threatening him for the last few days.
When asked about an attack on a key witness against him in May, Asaram Bapu had, while being taking to a court in Jodhpur, sarcastically remarked, "Duniyaan mein sabhi hamle main hi karwata hoon (I am responsible for all the attacks in this world)". It was the sixth attack on a witness in the case.
The 74-year-old guru has been in a jail in Jodhpur since September 2013 over allegations of raping the teenage girl. Two months later he, along with his son Narayan Sai, were booked for the alleged rape of two sisters at their ashram in Gujarat's Surat.
In the time that they have been in jail, nine witnesses have been attacked and two have died.