Asaram Bapu
Police escort spiritual leader Asaram Bapu (L) outside an airport after his arrest in Jodhpur.Reuters

Just a week after the arrest of self-styled godman Asaram Bapu for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor, he has been charged with fresh cases, including land grabbing and tax fraud. Now, he has blamed the media for all that have befallen him.

On Thursday, Asaram's advocate sought in an application to the district and session court that the media be restrained from covering his trial over the alleged sexual assault case.

The 72-year-old spiritual leader is accused of raping a 16-year-old girl at his Jodhpur ashram. He was arrested by Jodhpur police on 31 August from his ashram in Indore and is currently lodged in the Jodhpur central jail under judicial custody.

Asaram's counsel appealed that the police and its investigative wing should not be allowed to 'leak, pass or share' any information to the media as they provide the viewers with 'raw and unsubstantiated' information which is damaging Asaram's image.

As per PTI report, the defence counsel accused the media of not only projecting a one-sided picture but also hindering a fair trial.

Interestingly, the appeal was made on the same day a controvercial CD of the spiritual guru surfaced. Rge video taken by his assistant Shiva showed him engaged in immoral activities with a girl. 

Shiva tried to provide the Jodhpur police with hardcore evidence. The CD had recorded videos of Asaram and his female followers in the "dhyan ki kutiya," a hut meant for meditation. The spiritual preacher allegedly used those video clips to blackmail his followers.  

Another case against Asaram sprung up on Thursday. His Delhi ashram was served with a notice by North Delhi Municipal Corporation for not paying property tax since 2004.

During a survey of the ashram on 2 September, officials found out that commercial items like Asaram's books and ayurvedic medicines were being sold inside the ashram.

"Under the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, religious places are exempted from payment of property tax and no commercial activities could be carried out on such land. But, in this case, ashram was found indulged in carrying out commercial activities," NDMC public relations officer Yogendra Singh Mann told PTI.

Before being arrested for the alleged sexual assault on a minor, Asaram had tried to evade the Jodhpur police and failed to appear before the police for questioning. He escaped from Bhopal to Indore with his son the night before his arrest, raising questions over him being innocent.

His followers had even attacked mediapersons outside his Jodhpur ashram for calling him 'Asaram' and not 'Asaram bapu' in front of the camera.

It was through media reports reports that the Supreme Court observed that the self-styled guru was provided with excessive security and asked the Jodhpur police to strip the godman of unnecessary police cover. On Thursday, Asaram indeed appeared in court in a police car with a few officials scouting him.

The next hearing on his case is scheduled for 10 September, where the court might decide whether the media be allowed to follow the trial or not.

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