Probe ordered into UP jail event 'glorifying' godman Asaram

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Shahjahanpur (UP), Dec 23 (PTI) Prison authorities in Uttar Pradesh have ordered a probe into allegations that an event at the district jail here “glorified” godman Asaram, who is serving a sentence for rape.

The rape victim’s father made the demand following reports that the self-styled godman’s two followers had come from Lucknow, distributed blankets and held a prayer meeting in which Asaram’s photograph was placed.

Uttar Pradesh’s Additional Inspector General (Jail) Sharad Kulshrestha has ordered a probe. It will be conducted by the deputy inspector general for Bareilly zone, he told PTI on Wednesday.

Shahjahanpur district magistrate Indra Vikram Singh said a notice has been issued to the jail administration, taking note of news reports.

Action will be taken after its reply is received, he said.

Asaram was convicted in April 2018 of raping a Shahjahanpur girl at his ashram near Jodhpur in 2013. He was arrested by the Jodhpur Police on August 31 that year and has been in jail since then.

The girl’s father alleged on Tuesday that Asaram was “glorified” at a “satsang” (prayer meeting) held in the prison.

“Asaram’s followers are doing this to refurbish the image of a rape convict,” he had said, demanding a probe.

Earlier, Shahjahanpur Jail superintendent Rakesh Kumar confirmed the distribution of 75 blankets in the jail, but said they were sent there.

According to the other version, the blankets were distributed by Arjun and Narain Pandey, who were earlier lodged in Shahjahanpur jail after being arrested for allegedly killing a witness in a rape case.

The jail superintendent said Pandey had fallen ill and got well after being treated at the prison hospital. When he was released on bail, he pledged to distribute blankets in the jail.

'They had sent the blankets, which were distributed in the jail. The allegation of “glorification” and a “satsang” inside the jail is baseless,” Kumar said.

But purported photographs of the jail event and a press note apparently issued by him were sent on a WhatsApp group on Monday, and then deleted. PTI CORR NAV ASH ASH