Hundreds of protesters including women and children have gathered in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar demanding the release of Asaram Bapu.
All the allegations against Asaram Bapu are fabricated, according to the protestors.
The protesters also demanded an amendment in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act under which the spiritual leader has been charged.
“According to the official statistics, about 46,000 new cases has been registered under POCSO Act, where 70 percent of them are found to be fabricated,” a press note circulated by the organisation claimed.
Protesters, many of whom have been in the national capital’s protest distric claim that they have the backing of many Hindu right wing organisations like Viswa Hindu Parsihad, Hindu Jan Jagruta Samiti, Dharma Raksha Manch, Eashwar Kripa Samajik Sanghathan, Nari Utthaan Foundation etc.
Asaram Bapu, the self-styled godman from Gujarat, was booked by the Delhi police in 2013, for an allegedly raping a minor.
The 16-year-old girl accused Asaram of sexually assaulting her at his ashram in Jodhpur on the pretext of exorcising her from evil spirits. The girl’s parents filed a complaint with the police in Delhi, and a medical examination confirmed that she was sexually assaulted.
Delhi Police booked him under section 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC and relevant sections of the Juvenile Justice Act, and the POCSO Act.
Asaram remained inside his ashram in Indore and avoided arrest while his devotees clashed with journalists and policemen outside. Eventually, the Jodhpur police arrested him on 1 September 2013.
Asaram dismissed the girl’s allegations and claimed that the accusations were a conspiracy orchestrated by Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi of the then-ruling Congress party. He had also claimed that he was impotent and not capable of sexual assault. However this claim was found to be baseless after a potency test was carried out.
Even though the 75 year old has applied for bail several times, it has been denied so far.
Asaram’s son Narayan Sai was also arrested on charges of rape in December 2013, after two sisters from Surat alleged that he and his father had raped them in Asaram’s ashram during mid-2000s.
The elder sister accused Asaram of repeated sexual assaults between 1997–2006 at the Motera ashram. The younger sister accused Narayan Sai of sexually assaulting her for three years from 2002 at the Surat ashram.
There have been numerous attempts to intimidate and silence the witnesses in the Asaram case, during the past two years. Many witnesses have been killed by unknown assailants.