Controversial godman Asaram was finally brought to the city from Jodhpur by the SIT on Monday evening to be probed in the rape charges slapped against him by a woman from Surat.
After acquiring his transit remand from Jodhpur court, the SIT (Special Investigation Team) members, including ML Ninama, deputy commissioner of police (DCP) zone 2, landed at the Ahmedabad airport with Asaram around 6.10 pm.
Sources said the SIT boarded a Mumbai-bound flight from Jodhpur around 11.30 am. From Mumbai, Asaram and SIT members boarded an Ahmedabad-bound flight in the afternoon and landed at the airport here around 6.10 pm. For security reasons, all the other passengers were asked to remain seated till Asaram was escorted to the VIP arrival gate.
To avoid any untoward incident during Asaram’s arrival, the police were on their toes. It is learned that the more than 500 policemen along with the State Reserve Police (SRP) had been given ‘stand to’ orders since afternoon and deployed outside the airport.
All roads leading to or going out of the airport from Shahibaug and Hansol were cordoned off. The police also checked each and every vehicle approaching the airport. The bandobast was supervised by two additional commissioners of police (AdCP) JK Bhatt and Manoj Shashidharan.
They were accompanied by three DCPs, four assistant commissioners of police and eight police inspectors of zones 5 and 6, including KK Patel, police inspector of Sardarnagar.
Apart from these officers, who were constantly doing the rounds of the e route from the airport to Indira bridge, 200 SRP jawans, Detection of Crime Branch officials and several women police were deployed in and around the airport.
Around 5 pm, as news spread about Asaram’s arrival and the possibility of taking him to Gandhinagar via Hansol, many Asaram devotees started gathering near the airport circle to catch a glimpse of their guru. Many of them had lined up till Hansol and towards Indira bridge.
Surprisingly, most of them were women devotees, who requested the police to allow them to see Asaram.
As soon as some PIs learned about the gathering on the 1 km stretch from the airport to the bridge, they ordered their juniors to disperse the crowd. About 50 policemen swung into action around 5 pm and forced the devotees to go away for security reasons. The police also asked restaurants, such as Shambhu’s Coffee Bar, to shut shop temporarily. They even detained some sadhaks and were engaged in a confrontation with Asaram’s devotees. The police even thrashed a mediaperson for taking photographs and forced him to sit in the van. Later, PI KK Patel apologised and let him off.
After coming out of the airport, Asaram was put in the Vajra van where more than 12 policemen were already waiting. Besides, the whole caravan of around 25 police vehicles began their journey towards Gandhinagar from Indirabridge around 6:20 pm.
Though it was earlier believed that he would be taken to Gandhinagar court by the police, he was taken to the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) office on SG Highway where Asaram will stay till Tuesday morning. The SIT, in fact, started questioning the godman at the ATS itself. Legal experts believe that it was necessary to prepare the ground for the police to demand custody of an accused.
Sources have also revealed that SIT hade also allowed Asaram’s lawyer to come to the ATS office and discuss the matter with him.
The SIT is expected to take Asaram to the Gandhinagar district court in Sector 11 on Tuesday morning and demand his custody. On Tuesday, the same court would also decide on the anticipatory bail pleas of Asaram’s wife Lakshmi and daughter Bharati, who have also been named co-accused in the sexual assault complaint by the Surat woman.