All Indians, young and old, are aware of nitty-gritty of rape, molestation and harassment — thanks to the multitude of cases right from Hathras episode to Hyderabad encounter of the rape accused by the police and much more. However, few are aware of the technicalities, legalities and the planning and pain that the police undergo to bring culprits to court.
Gunning for the Godman — The True Story Behind Asaram Bapu’s Conviction by IPS officer Ajay Lamba holds a mirror to such rare and successful convictions. As the book suggests, the case of the Godman is extremely sensitive and complicated due to many factors. One of them being the fact that an intercourse has not occured, in spite of the fact that a rape took place. Added to that, much-needed physical evidence was also eroded by the fact that the report was filed much after the case took place.
The book takes us through day-to-day and event-to-event coverage of the case, which starts with author Lamba receiving a call about the case pertaining to the jurisdiction. Since then, a team of police painstakingly uncovered evidence which started with the age of the victim (she was underaged) to her presence at the kutir, which was where the event took place.
While the team’s workings, their precautions, their smart planning of evacuating the Godman from the backdoor of his ashram indeed made a thrilling read. But the book could have done with more literary touch on the Godman and his many nefarious activities. The book, probably owing to legal issues, only touched upon these acts like land grabbing, unaccounted wealth, etc. The Delhi court had to overturn an injunction on the sale of the book, and any more information on hearsay which could have of course added colour, had to be avoided.
Another major roadblock could have been the fact that the rape case had brought it to the attention of the largesse that the Godman had made it a habit to prey on nubile young girls of unsuspecting parents who are his devotees. It is believed that the Godman must have molested at least a 1,000 girls! But the few who had the courage to tell the story or lodge a complaint were either scared, silenced or strongarmed. The police too had lost a key witness, who was killed, and yet another went missing. But, one has to admit that the police and the prosecution did a laudable job bringing the Godman to justice, physically and legally.
Lamba and his team also had to hold on to their frayed nerves due to the political pressure and threats. He also admits that his wife had stopped sending their daughter to school for a while due to the incessant death threats and phone calls.
And, one of his team members was also promised ‘all of Rajasthan’ properties of the ashram if they were to tread lightly on the course of the case. All those were both politely and angrily shown to the door.
However, the victim and her family too belong to a rare class of people who had the courage to go against a financially and politically powerful man, who wields faith as a weapon.
Book: Gunning for the Godman
Author: Ajay Lamba IPS, Sanjeev Mathur
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Price: Rs 499