Ignoring the summons, Asaram Bapu on Friday failed to appear before Jodhpur police for questioning in a sex assault case and its team headed to Bhopal to interrogate him and make an arrest if he does not provide "concrete" defence.
As the chorus for action against 72-year-old Asaram grew loud, the Jodhpur police rejected his plea for extending the deadline for his appearance which ended on Friday. Police said he is currently located in Bhopal.
"We have received a fax from bapu on Friday evening stating that on account of his ill-health and death of his relative, he was not able to come in stipulated time and sought more time for appearance before the police for investigation.
But we have decided not to give him any relief as we have no strong ground to believe, what he said in the fax", Jodhpur Deputy Commissioner of Police Ajay Pal Lamba told mediapersons in the desert city.
Regarding the possibility of Asaram's arrest, Lamba said that as of now the police had adequate and strong evidence against him enabling it to make an arrest but it will give him a chance to prove him innocent during his interrogation.
"If he does not have concrete defence he will be arrested," he added. Asaram is accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old schoolgirl and inmate of his Jodhpur ashram. Referring to the grounds for his plea for extending the deadline, especially ill-health, Lamba said the investigating team will examine the veracity of his plea and then only it will be decided whether he needs time or not.
"If there is strong ground justifying his plea, we may consider relaxation on humanitarian ground", Lamba said.
On the possibility of his changing the location, Lamba said stand-by teams are also ready to leave for any destination. "If he leaves from Bhopal, his current location, they(the teams) will be ready to go after him."
The police has also taken into account any untoward situation that may arise during his arrest, he said. "We have spoken to the MP police and have been assured of every cooperation in case of any law and order threat arising due to his arrest,” Lamba said.