Duped disciples take Asaram to court

Sep 11, 2013, 01:43 IST | Priyankka Deshpande

Twelve followers allegedly conned by the self-styled godman's Shree Hari Om Seva Sanstha have appealed Bombay High Court that the matter be tagged on to the case of a minor's sexual assault against the preacher being monitored by a Jodhpur court

Disillusioned and dejected, twelve disciples among more than 300 allegedly duped by Asaram Bapu’s Shree Hari Om Seva Sanstha have approached the Bombay high court.

losing the plot: The petitioners have accused Asaram’s sanstha (below) of failing to allot plots at Kelgaon near Alandi, despite the payment having been made

The petitioners have accused the trust of failing to allot 2,500 sq ft plots at Kelgaon near Alandi to them and appealed that their case be attached to the one of sexual assault against the preacher being heard in a Jodhpur court.

Asaram's sanstha

The complainants have claimed that although they made full payment in 2002, the trust has failed to allocate the plots. The sanstha has also ignored their repeated pleas of returning the money. After no solution came forth, the disciples were forced to approach the Legal Rights Society (Pune chapter) for redressal of their complaints.

Kelgaon land
Controversy getting murkier: The building developed by the sanstha on the land in Kelgaon, which was already sold to the disciples of Asaram in 2002; (inset) Vinod Kumar Singh, one of the victims allegedly cheated by Shree Hari Om Seva Sanstha. Pic/Navnath Kapel

“Considering three new cases have cropped up against him in Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi and Surat, we have requested Justice RS Mohite of Bombay High Court to take suo moto action and attach Kelgaon land scam case to the sexual assault case.

This would also help in having a detailed inquiry in this matter where hundreds of his followers were duped,” said member of Pune chapter of Legal Rights Society, Anoop Awasthi.

Chandan Nagar resident Vinod Kumar Singh, one of the plot purchasers in Kelgaon, says he has been suffering for the last ten years. The victim who was an ardent devotee of the ‘godman’ purchased 2.5 gunthas in Kelgaon near Shree Hari Om Seva Sanstha, by paying Rs 60,000.

“Two of my relatives who stay in Jahanabad district of Bihar also purchased plots in Kelgaon thinking that we could stay under Bapu’s tutelage. However, we soon realised that we had been cheated when the trustees avoided us during our repeated visits to the sanstha to ask about our land,” said Singh.

He added that in 2007, the sanstha expressed its inability to provide him the land and offered a one-room (with separate kitchen) flat in a building on the same plot.

“The trust demanded Rs 6.40 lakh for the new flat, and said the Rs 60,000 I had already paid would be deducted. However, I refused to accept this arrangement and asked the sanstha to return my money along with interest considering the plot’s prevalent market value. To this I got no response,” said Singh.

Singh says he and a few other disgruntled followers sent in a complaint to the commissioner of police, Pune, and the matter was transferred to Samartha police station.

However, senior inspector of Samartha police station Ganpat Nikam denied that they had received any such case. “We have checked our records and we didn’t find any such complaint by land buyers,” he told MiD DAY.

The other side
When MiD DAY tried to contact the then trust president CV Chaudhary who has reportedly stepped down from his post, his phone was picked up by his nephew, identifying himself as Ambrish Chaudhary. He said that CV Chaudhary was busy and had left the phone at home so he was not disturbed. A member of the trust, Vinayak Gujar, said that the buck stops with Chaudhary in this matter, as his resignation hasn’t yet been accepted by the sanstha.  Gujar, however, said that the trust was ready to give money back to the plot purchasers, but some of them were refusing to accept the amount. “We were supposed to get 80 acres of land from the original owner. However, in the end we got only 45 acres. Therefore the entire scheme fell through and we started returning money to the plot buyers,” he told MiD DAY.  

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