New Delhi: The sexual harassment case is not an isolated example for self-styled godman Asaram from prior accusations of exploitation of women and even murder and land grab. Asaram and the powerful Asaram Trust have survived several controversies over the years.
Former devotee, Ashok Thakore, said he allowed Asaram followers to use his 5 acre plot near the main Ashram in Motera, until the Ashram grabbed the land for good. "The ashram said that the land was a donation from my father towards the trust, though I told them it was impossible, they didn't return the land," Thakore said.
The Asaram ashram in Surat too, stands on land acquired by the Gujarat government, allegedly encroached on by the Asaram Trust, including land owned by Anil Vyas. "When we went to remove the ashram fencing, they attacked and forced us off the land," Vyas said.
The Gujarat High Court has asked the Ashram to vacate the land and the matter is with the Supreme Court with Asaram denying all wrongdoing.
In July 2008, 11-year-olds Dipesh and Abhishek went missing at the ashram. Their dead bodies were recovered two days later in the nearby Sabarmati river. Their parents allege the boys were murdered in a black magic ritual at the ashram.
Ayurvedic doctor Amrut Prajapati was associated with Asaram for 18 years till he left in 2005 alleging several wrongdoings. "Asaram has exploited over 1,000 women. Murders have taken place in the ashrams and made to pass off as suicides," Prajapati alleged.
Over the years all charges against Asaram have failed to stick. The 'godman' seems to be above the law because of the following he commands. That makes it all but impossible for the political class to truly take him on.