Atleast nine witnesses are attacked and three among them are hacked to death to silence their voices against self-styled godman Asaram who is facing rape charges.
A group of followers of saint Asaram allegedly hired an amateur shooter for Rs 25 lakhs to kill witness in connection of separate rape cases against Bapu and his son, said Police.
The suspected shooter who had attended a few discourses by Asaram, managed to kill three witnesses but missed four others. The shooter had attended a few discourses by Asaram before joining one of his ashrams.
The Gujarat anti-terrorism squad (ATS) arrested the suspect, identified as Kartik Haldar from Raipur in Chhattisgarh and brought to Ahmedabad on Monday.
The charges of rape and intimidation were registered against 74-year-old Guru and his son Narayan Sai in Surat and Ahmedabad in Gujarat besides Jodhpur in Rajasthan.
According to ATS sources, the shooter allegedly named several followers – known as sadhaks – who met in Delhi in 2014 and decided to raise fund to kill the witnesses.
The sources said the shooter, a West Bengal resident, named Pravin Vakil and KD Patel, Sanjay Jodhpur and Mohan Kishor are among the sadhaks who raised the amount. They are supposed to be arrested after their identities are ascertained.
Though it is not confirmed yet that if the act had Asaram or Narayan Sai’s approval.
Amrut Prajapati, a former aide of Asaram and a key witness, was shot dead in his Rajkot clinic in June 2014. Kripal Singh, another witness, also succumbed to bullet injuries in June 2015 following an attack in Shahjahanpur, UP. Akhil Gupta, who worked with Asaram as a cook and testified against him, was shot dead in January 2015 near his house in Muzaffarnagar in UP. The last case is investigated by the CBI.
Priminary investigations revealed Haldar had procured 10 arms, including country made pistols.
Haldar had first attended Asaram’s satsang in 2000 in Delhi and joined his Motera ashram in Ahmedabad in 2001.