The word in Gujarat is that the complaints of the two Surat sisters who have accused Asaram Bapu and his son of rape is a Gujarati translation of Blasphemy by Pakistan author Tehmina Durrani.
And that’s no exaggeration, for the tale of sexual abuse told in the complaints filed by the sisters is marked throughout by sleaze like Durrani’s sordid story of a Pakistani holy man’s dark sexual life.
With this, 72-year-old Asumal Sirumalanai, or Asaram Bapu as he is better known to millions, is in the dock a second time of charges of grave sexual misconduct, and his son, 41-year-old Narayan Sai who has been doling out holier-than-thou interviews, have now been recast as satyrs rather than sadhus.
The elder sister has for the first time brought out the complicity of Asaram’s wife Lakshmi Devi and daughter Bharti Devi in his sexual predation and the active role that they played in supplying young girls to him. The younger sister has given a detailed account of the ordeal she suffered at the hands of Narayan, now wanted by the Surat Police.
According to the elder sister’s complaint, she was first stopped from going home by Lakshmi in 1997, when she had come to attend a satsang in Ahmedabad. In 2001, it was Bharti who took her to the godman’s farmhouse near their Motera Ashram where Asaram forced himself on her and made her perform fellatio. He raped her later. Later Bharti took her back to the ashram, where she remained unwell for days.
Barely a month had elapsed that she was called again by Lakshmi to attend to Asaram. This time the girl escaped into the garden and spent an entire night there to avoid going to Asaram. The very next day she was presented before Lakshmi, who slapped her hard and sent her to Asarama in the afternoon. Asaram, the girl says in her complaint, castigated her with the most vulgar terms possible and also threw utensils at her. The abuse continued, and in 2007, the girl escaped from the ashram and got married in due course.
The younger sister’s story is even worse. She was spotted by the godman’s son at a satsang in Surat in 2001 and taken first to Meghnagar Ashram in Madhya Pradesh and later to another ashram in Bihar, where Narayan misbehaved with her for the first time. She was taken around to various other ashrams, including one in Kathmandu, before she was returned to Surat.
In Surat, Hanuman, an attendant of Asaram’s son, took her again to Narayan in his ashram.
He was sitting on a chair,” the victim alleged. “ Out of reverence sat on the floor,” she added.
According to the complaint, while Narayan started speaking to her, he also started groping her and then finally grabbed her.
He stood up and took me in his arms and started kissing me on the face,” she complained, adding that he then pushed her on to a bed and started touching her inappropriately all over.
Gradually he took off his clothes and forced me to perform oral sex on him,” she stated.
“He then stripped me completely, and I could not even shout because of my fear.
He paid no heed to my pleas for mercy,” she said. Narayan then took her to bathroom and raped her there. He later asked the victim to cover with cream a mark on her face that was caused by the forcible nature of the encounter, and threatened her to stay quiet. Later she was made the in- charge of Ganmbhoi Ashram in Sabarkantha, where too Narayan raped her and made her fellate him on several occasions.
Finally in 2005, when she could not take the torture any more, the girl fled from the Ashram.
Two years later, when the elder sister escaped from Asaram’s clutches, they met and shared their ordeal but it was only after the godman’s arrest that they found the courage to file their complaints.
The Surat Police has got the sisters’ statements recorded before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which can be used as evidence against the accused in the court. While the Surat Police has already started looking for Narayan, his mother and sister too are now under police scanner. The Ahmedabad Police is likely to seek Asaram’s custody soon for interrogation in this case.