A sharpshooter from Bengal, Kartik Haldar, told the police that he killed three witnesses in the rape cases of Asaram and his son at the behest of the godman and his henchmen. His devotees paid him Rs 25 lakhs for the contract killings. Two other couples were also arrested for murderous assaults. Arindam profiles the dark world of the spiritual guru, who began his life selling tea, alcohol and working in a dairy before becoming a luxuriant seer. He and his son are given to carnal pleasures: molestations, rape and other crimes.
Mario Puzo’s thriller, The Family, seems a pale patch in comparison to Asaram Bapu’s sinister world of crime. The latest in the can of worms is his active conspiracy and abetment in the murder of three prime witnesses. The misdeeds of the self-styled godman fail to die down. It has been rearing its ugly head for years.
It is worth noting that Asaram and his son Narayan Sai together have three cases of rape registered against them. The self-styled seer has been named in land grabbing, kidnapping, molestation and now, possibly in scheming murders.
Befitting a crime thriller, the sleuths of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Gujarat Police arrested a sharpshooter, Kartik Haldar, allegedly a henchman of Asaram. He confessed that he killed three witnesses in rape cases filed against Asaram, at the behest of the godman and his henchmen. He also confessed receiving Rs 25 lakh from his devotees for the contract killing of witnesses.
Haldar, a Bengali, is a native of South 24 Parganas district, West Bengal. He was nabbed at Raipur, Chhattisgarh, in a joint operation by ATS and the crime branch of the local police.
As per media reports, J K Bhatt, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) and incharge IG of ATS said that investigations revealed that Haldar had also attempted (read vowed) to kill four other persons. All of them had fallen out with Asaram in the rape cases filed against him. It was also revealed that Haldar was paid by other sadhaks (follower-preachers) of the seer, to weaken the cases against the controversial preacher and his son.
It was in the year 2000 that Haldar met Asaram first time during a religious discourse. He became a staunch devotee a year later. The sharpshooter became an inmate of Asaram’s Motera ashram, near Ahmedabad.
It was revealed that Haldar and his associates, who had meticulously planned all strikes, managed to acquire a huge cache of arms and ammunitions. They acquired 10 country made guns, three 12 bore country made guns, one 9 mm country made pistol and 94 rounds of ammunitions from different gun runners in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkand, according to ATS sources.
The police informed about the crimes of Haldar. He allegedly killed Asaram’s doctor Amrut Prajapati at his Rajkot dispensary, in June 2014. His second prey was Akhil Gupta, another doctor of Asaram, who had turned into a witness. Gupta was killed near his house in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, in January 2015.
Another key witness, Kripal Singh was gunned down, in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh, in July 2015. Singh’s whose minor daughter was raped by the tarnished godman. He used to work in the office of a transporter.
The police also arrested a married couple in Ahmedabad in connection with the attack on witnesses in rape cases against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai. Asaram’s former personal assistant Mahendra Chawla was shot at by them, at Panipat, Haryana, in June 2015. They also attacked Om Prakash Prajapati and his wife Seema. Prajapati was the warden of Asaram’s Chhindwada ashram.
Earlier, a couple from Bangalore, hardcore followers of Asaram, was nabbed at Ahmedabad, in September 2015. They said that they wanted to teach lessons to the witnesses for daring to speak against the godman.
Asaram’s Daughter-in-law Turned Against Father-son Duo
In November last year, Janaki, daughter-in-law of Asaram, leveled charges of harassment against her father-in-law and husband, lodged in jails in separate rape cases. She recorded a statement before the police at the Khajurana Police Station, Indore, on September 19. Her lawyer Rohit Yadav had told the media persons that she handed over wedding photographs and other documents to the police.
Janaki said to the police that her husband Narayan Harpalani had allegedly illegitimate relations with another woman, a disciple at his ashram. Narayan wanted to marry this disciple when she became pregnant.
She alleged that her father, Devraj Krishnani, was made to donate his valuable property to the godman’s Bhopal ashram, under duress. Janaki and Narayan were married on May 22, 1997.
The Past Life of Asaram
In his earlier avatar, Asaram was Asumal. The family shifted to Gujarat after the partition. After his father Thaumal Sirumalani’s death, Asumal had to fend for the family. He shifted to Vijapur, in Mehsana district.
In 1958-59, Asumal was a chaiwalla (tea seller). He used to sell tea near the Majistrate’s office. Sevak Ram, a relative of Asaram still runs that tea stall.
For many years, Asumal sold tea. In 1959, inebriated Asumal and his relatives were allegedly involved in a murder. The crime could not be proved against him for lack of evidences. After his bail, he shifted to Sardar Nagar locality, in Ahmedabad.
A year later, in 1960, Asumal with four other partners, Jamarmal, Nathumal, Kishanmal and Lachrani, became an alcohol seller. He earned huge profits. Thereafter, he worked in a milk dairy and earned Rs 300 per month.
Suddenly he vanished. People forgot about him. Years later, he resurfaced as a religious leader.
Asumal was now Asaram Bapu. The street smart man, who did small jobs to eke out a living in the past, is man who has reportedly renounced everything.
The fact is that he leads a luxuriant life. He showers petals on his devotees as blessings.
As per media reports, he owns properties worth millions of rupees. He has 425 ashrams spread across 12 countries and runs more than 50 gurukuls, all over India.
He has immense wealth. He has several politicians as his devotees – after his arrest few have abondened him. But, a section of his disciples are quite like him. For Asaram, his son and his scheming devotees, religion is indeed the last resort of the scoundrels.
Let’s not forget, behind every fortune there is crime.
Pix from Net
Arindam Roy has 37 years experience in various newsrooms. He was the Managing Editor of a reputed Gurgaon-based Citizen Journalist portal and has held senior positions in several publications. As Correspondent and Bureau Chief, he has written extensively for Associated Press, Times of India, Hindustan Times and multiple news outlets. He has contributed 13 chapters to various publications. Of these, seven chapters were published in two Coffee Table Books, published by the Times Group. He is a co-author of a novel, Rivers Run Back that he penned with Joyce Yarrow. The novel was launched at the American Centre, New Delhi, on January 2015. He lives in Allahabad.