In a significant breakthrough, the Anti-Terrorism Squad of Gujarat Police has arrested an alleged henchman on the charges of killing three witnesses in rape cases filed against self-styled godman Asaram Bapu. Kartik Haldar, a native of South 24 Pargana district in West Bengal, was arrested from Raipur, Chhattisgarh, in a joint operation by ATS and Crime Branch unit of city police.
Upon investigation it was revealed that Haldar had also attempted to kill four other persons who were involved in rape cases filed against the jailed religious leader in Jodhpur and Ahmedabad, said J K Bhatt, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) and in-charge IG of ATS. Revelations also revealed that he was hired by other ‘sadhaks’ (followers) of Asaram so as to weaken the cases against the controversial preacher.
Haldar first came in contact with Asaram in 2000 for a religious discourse. He then became a full-time follower after a year and started living in Asaram’s ashram at Motera near Ahmedabad. He had acquired 10 country-made pistols and 94 cartridges from various arms dealers in Jharkhand and UP for executing all his crimes.
Here is the list of all crimes he did for the godman, as per the police:
- Involved in killing of Asaram’s personal doctor Amrut Prajapati at his dispensary in Rajkot in June 2014.
- Akhil Gupta, another of Asaram’s personal doctors, who had turned into a witness, was killed near his house in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh in January 2015
- Kripal Singh, another key witness, shot dead in July 2015 in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh. Singh used to work in the office of a transporter whose minor daughter was raped in the case
- Fired at Asaram’s former personal assistant Mahendra Chawla in June 2015 at Panipat, Haryana
- Also attacked the warden of Asaram’s Chhindwada-based ashram Omprakash Prajapati and his wife Seema
In September 2015, a Bengaluru couple was arrested from Ahmedabad for their role in the attacks on witnesses. As both of them were hard-core followers of Asaram, they wanted to teach the witnesses a lesson as per a report by Indian Express
(With inputs from PTI)
(Feature image source: PTI)