Basti Police have lodged a case against self-styled religious guru Swami Sachidanand and three of his aides for alleged gang-rape, sexual assault and physical torture of four women disciples at his ashram in Basti city, in eastern UP. Following a complaint lodged by the victims on Tuesday evening, the police conducted searches at Sachidanand’s Sant Kutir ashram, located in Amahat area of Basti city, on Wednesday but failed to find any of the accused, a top district police officer said.
The police have conducted medical examination of the victims, who are between 19 and 26 years. Two of them are from Basti district, the other two from Chhattisgarh. The victims have told the police that they have been at Sachidanand’s Basti ashram since 2008. Sachidanand, who holds religious discourses, also has ashrams in Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha district, Delhi and Chhattisgarh, among other states, the victims have told the police.
Superintendent of Police, Basti, Sankalp Sharma said that the four women came to his camp office on Tuesday evening and alleged that they were being sexually assaulted by ashram head Sachidanand and his three aides for several years. They also alleged that the accused had held them captive in the ashram and threatened them after they said about a week ago that they will inform the police about the assault on them, according to Sharma.
“The victims told me that they somehow managed to escape from the ashram and reached here (at the SP camp office),” he said.
On the basis of their complaint, an FIR was lodged against Sachidanand, Param Chetnanand, Vishwas Anand and Vairaganand under IPC Sections 376D (gangrape), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 506 (criminal intimidation), and 342 (wrongful confinement) at City Kotwali police station.
According to the SP, the women claimed in the complaint that Sachidanand and his aides moved them to other branches of the ashram frequently and sexually exploited them there as well. “The women did not answer when asked why they had remained silent for all these years. Their medical examination report is awaited. We will get their statement recorded before the magistrate tomorrow,” Sharma said
.He said separate teams have been sent to different locations to trace the four accused named in the complaint.
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