Indore : Self-styled ‘godman’ Asaram Bapu, who was recently booked for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl, kept a team of Rajasthan police waiting for seven hours before they were allowed to serve summons on him.

Asaram’s supporters covered themselves with a fig leaf: The team was told that the seer was ‘meditating’ and the sleuths should cool their heels in the ashram.

But even as the meditation was on, a BJP leader, local MLA Ramesh Mendola, and his supporters were allowed to meet the spiritual guru, who has a following in all political parties.

The 3-member team of Jodhpur police led by a Sub-Inspector reached the ashram about 7 A.M.; it was only at 2 PM that Asaram made an appearance before the cops and accepted the summons. The summons are intended to facilitate his presence before Jodhpur police by August 30 for recording his statements in the sexual assault case, the cops told reporters.

But while interacting with media before leaving for Surat, Asaram declared with aplomb,  “I am busy with my religious discourses till August 31 in different cities. Once I am through with the scheduled discourses, I will cooperate with the police in the investigation,” he said.

Asaram has been booked for sexual assault under Sections 376, 342, 506 and 509 of the IPC, section 8 of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act and sections 23 and 26 of the Juvenile Justice Act.

The Jodhpur Police, meanwhile, have issued a look out notice for Asaram to prevent him from fleeing the country.

Meanwhile, claiming to be a friend of the 15-year-old girl, who has levelled the charges against Asaram, a teenaged girl, Ashwini, appeared before media persons on Tuesday and claimed that her friend was ‘forced’ by her parents to level false allegations. Ashwini, a resident of Indore, claimed that her friend had informed her about this on phone. “She called me up recently and said that her parents made her level false charges of sexual assault against the ‘godman’.”  Ashwini claimed that she had studied with the victim at a gurukul for four years.

Asaram, too, has debunked all charges levelled against him. ”There is a conspiracy to defame me,” he claimed while talking to reporters outside his ashram. He said the victim was forced to lodge the complaint against him. He also alleged that Hindu saints were purposefully being maligned as part of a larger conspiracy. “Baseless allegations are levelled against me because I preach Indian culture during my discourses. In the last four-and-a-half years, I was accused of practicing black magic and tantrik practices but none of these stood legal scrutiny,” he said.

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