Asaram sent to jail for 14 days

Jaipur, Sep 2 (IANS) A court in Rajasthan's Jodhpur city Monday sent spiritual guru Asaram Bapu, arrested for alleged sexual assault on a minor, to 14 days' judicial custody, a police official said.

"Asaram has been sent to judicial custody till Sep 15," a police official told IANS over phone from Jodhpur.

The 72-year-old Asaram Bapu was earlier Monday quizzed at a guest house of Rajasthan Armed Constabulary (RAC) in connection with the case of sexual assault lodged against him by a 16-year-old girl, an official said.

The incident allegedly took place Aug 15 in his ashram outside Jodhpur city.

Flown to Jodhpur Sunday afternoon after his arrest from his ashram in Madhya Pradesh's Indore city past midnight Saturday, Asaram was presented before a court which sent him to one day's police remand.

He was brought to the court of the district and sessions judge amid tight security, and after the hearing was sent to the Jodhpur Central Jail.

"Police after questioning him on Sunday evening interrogated him again today (Monday). His sevadar (caretaker) Shiva, who surrendered before the police on Saturday, was also questioned," a police officer told IANS.

Shiva was alleged to be standing outside the room where the girl was assaulted.

The officer added that Asaram has claimed innocence before investigators and denied the allegation of sexual assault levelled against him by the minor girl.

"Asaram has cooperated in the investigation. However, there are contradictions in his statements," the officer said.

The girl lodged a complaint Aug 20, accusing Asaram of sexually assaulting her at his ashram in Jodhpur. Asaram has denied the charge, and his son has claimed the girl was "mentally unstable".

Asaram has been booked under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and the Indian Penal Code.

According to the allegations of the girl, who studied at Asaram's ashram in Madhya Pradesh's Chhindwara and stayed in a girls' hostel there, the guru sexually assaulted her on the pretext of exorcism.

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