“He was with the girl in isolation for about an hour and a half in the evening on 15th August”

The Jodhpur police on Monday issued summons to godman Asaram Bapu who faces charges of sexual assault on a 16-year-old girl from Uttar Pradesh, an inmate of his ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.

Asaram Bapu has been asked to appear before the investigating officer “on or before 30th August”, the police said.

The police said that they have established the veracity of the minor girl’s allegations against him.

“It has been established that Asaram Bapu was with the girl in isolation for about an hour and a half in the evening on 15th August,” DCP, Jodhpur (West), Ajay Pal Lamba told The Hindu.

The police located Asaram Bapu at his ashram in Ahmedabad and the summons was served to the chief executive officer of the ashram.

“It took us four-five days to establish these facts because the FIR was forwarded to us late,” said Mr. Lamba.

But what if the godman failed to appear before the investigating officer in time?

“Then, there are other legal remedies and we would be forced to explore them,” he said.

Meanwhile, several women's organisations protested outside the Rajasthan Assembly on its opening day and demanded that Asaram Bapu be immediately arrested. The groups that led the protest included the People's Union for Civil Liberties, the Rajasthan University Women's Association, the National Federation of Indian Women and the All India Democratic Women's Association, and gender documentary film makers VIVIDHA, among others

“He should be charged under Sections 9 and 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act for aggravated non-penetrative sexual assault and arrested immediately,” PUCL national secretary Kavita Srivastava said.

“Why isn’t the Chief Minister ordering his immediate arrest when it’s a clear-cut case? And why is the BJP defending him?” she asked.

On Tuesday last week, the girl had filed a case against Asaram Bapu for sexually assaulting her at a farmhouse in Jodhpur on Independence day.

As soon as the story broke, Asaram Bapu's spokesperson Sunil Wankhede denied the allegations, claiming the godman was not even present in Jodhpur that day.

Since then Asaram Bapu not only admitted to being present in Jodhpur but also having met the girl, while denying any sexual misconduct.