Asaram Bapu
Police escort spiritual leader Asaram Bapu (C) outside an airport after his arrest in Jodhpur. [Representational Image]Reuters

Akhil Gupta, former cook of self-styled godman Asaram Bapu and a witness in a rape case against the godman, was shot dead by two unidentified assailants in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar city late on Sunday evening, police said.

The incident took place on Jansath Road under Nai Mandi police station in the city, when he was returning home from his dairy at around 7:45pm.

He was immediately rushed to hospital, where he was declared brought dead, PTI reported.

"Gupta's family members have said he was a witness in a case of rape lodged against Asaram in Ahmedabad. Gupta had worked as a cook for Asaram. While Gupta's residence was in another locality, he had started to stay at a rented accommodation in Geeta Enclave keeping his security in mind," The Indian Express quoted Nai Mandi Station Officer A K Singh as saying.

Two sisters in Surat had accused Bapu and his son Narayan Sai of raping them.

Gupta, 32, worked with Bapu at the Ahmedabad ashram and was also his personal aide till he decided to become a witness in the Surat rape case.

This is not the first time witnesses in Bapu's rape cases have been attacked.

In 2014, unidentified men threw acid on another witness Dinesh Bhavchandani in Surat and it was reportedly the third such attack on Bapu's rape case witnesses, according to an earlier PTI report by The Hindu.

Born as Asumal Thaumal Harpalani, Bapu, 73, is in jail for allegedly raping a minor girl at his ashram in 2013. He was booked under Sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC and under various Sections of the Juvenile Justice Act, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.