Court orders police to file case against Asaram ashram


Ahmedabad : Spiritual leader Asaram Bapu faces more trouble as the Gujarat High Court Tuesday ordered a police case to be filed against his ashram here in connection with an attack on journalists last month.

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The bench of acting Chief Justice M.S. Shah and Justice J.C. Upadhyay gave the ruling on a public interest litigation filed by an NGO, Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM), on Aug 17, urging the court to direct the Gujarat government to set up a special investigative team headed by a deputy inspector general to probe the attack allegedly by Asaram Bapu’s supporters.

The court also ordered that statements of those who were injured or whose properties were burnt or destroyed be recorded in a transparent manner by filing first information reports (FIRs) without delay, said JSM lawyer Shamshad Pathan.

When government pleader Bipin Desai argued that not even one individual had come forward to file an FIR from the Ramakaka-ni-chali, close to the ashram in Motera on city outskirts, where properties were said to have been destroyed, the court observed that police investigation has to be thorough and the government and the police force need to change their attitude or justice in the real sense will never be done.

The court had issued notices to the state government, the state home secretary, the state’s director general of police and the Gandhinagar district superintendent of police Aug 17.

Civic organisations had given a call for Ahmedabad shutdown July 18 to protest the allegedly tardy probe into the mysterious deaths of Dipesh Vaghela, 10, and his cousin Abhishek, 12. The boys, studying in the gurukul run by the ashram in Motera, were found dead in the riverbed nearby on July 6.

While police initially said the two had died of drowning, their parents said they might have been victims of occult practices.

During the shutdown, a group of journalists outside the ashram was attacked and many of them were injured. People from the ashram had also allegedly destroyed properties in nearby areas.

The Gandhinagar police had later arrested seven people identifying the assailants on the video recording of the incident by the electronic media. However, all of them were released on bail later by the Gandhinagar civil court.

The Motera centre run by the Asharam Bapu Trust refused to comment on the court’s order.