Blindly following Asaram was 'big mistake', says victim's father
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He has taken down the signboard showing the way to the ashram of Asaram Bapu here that he once proudly displayed outside his house.
The father of the girl allegedly sexually assaulted by the self-styled godman wishes it was as easy for him to erase his association with the man.
He didn't just regard whatever Asaram told him as "Brahma vakya (the word of god)", he says, but also donated land and supervised the construction of Asaram's ashram in Shajahanpur city, located around 150 km from Lucknow.
Five years ago, he shifted his children from local schools here to Asaram's gurukul in Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.
That faith of 11 years got shattered, the father says, when Asaram "assaulted" his 16-year-old daughter at his ashram in Jodhpur on August 15. Policemen are now deployed at their house here to keep outsiders away. Sitting inside with a few the neighbours, the father says Asaram is "very powerful" and they have received "threats" from his supporters.
On hunger strike at the Shahjahanpur Collectorate seeking Asaram's arrest, the father broke his fast late on Saturday night.
A successful businessman, the father first came into contact with Asaram at a satsang in Bareilly. Influenced by his discourses, he became a devout follower, chanting a "guru mantra" for more than two hours every morning, and visiting Asaram wherever he held satsangs.
"After my first meeting with him, I brought a copy of Rishi Prasad (a magazine of Asaram's trust) with me. Soon I made him my guru and started to follow whatever he preached. I distributed lakhs of copies of Rishi Prasad here.