Asumal Thaumal Harpalani alias Asumal Sirumalani– This name is not much familiar in India. He was born on 17th April, 1941 in the Berani village of Nawabshah district in British India (Present day Pakistan). He was born to his parents Menhgiba and Thaumal Sirumalani. After the partition of India in 1947 after the independence, he along with his family moved to Ahmedabad (now Gujarat). His father has subsequently founded a coal and wood company in Ahmedabad. After the death of his father, Asumal Harpalani has learned meditation and spirituality from his mother Menhgiba. He has set up a small ashram in Gujarat, in 10 acres of fertile agricultural land. The land did not come to him all at once. He has acquired it gradually as all his friendships with the powers developed and strengthened over the years in Gujarat. At that time he dropped his surname and began calling himself as ‘Asaram Bapu.’ He is married to Lakshmi Devi and survived with his son Narayan Sai Harpalani and a daughter Bharati Devi. Now he has set up, nearly 400 ashrams across the world. He gradually became familiar with the name of ‘Asaram Bapu’ and became famous by his religious preachings and people throughout the world began to follow him and used to visit his ashrams.
Soon he became a ‘Godman’ and strengthen his power among the followers through his ‘satsangs’ ( religious preaching) and giving ‘dikshas’ (initiation by guru) to the devotees throughout the nation and abroad. The first controversial issue was raised when the two cousin brothers Dipesh Vaghela and Abhishek Vaghela who were about ten and eleven years respectively went missing from his ‘Gurukul Bal Kendra’ which is situated in Motera, Gujarat. Praful Vaghela and Shanti Bai who were the parents of the missing children Dipesh and Abhishek were being said that the children ran away from the Bal Kendra. Their parents were worried about their children and enquired about them which were of no use. The two children were found dead and their bodies were recovered from nearby dried river-bed of Sabarmati. The children’s bodies were found in a decomposed state, and Dipesh arms were missing from the shoulder down, left leg was cut-off at the ankle and Abhishek’s body was half burnt as well. Policemen refused to register a complaint on the famous guru Asaram. Many agitations have been taken place and FIR was registered against Asaram Bapu.
Many other skeletons started tumbling out of the ashram closets. This made media attention drawn towards the Asaram and they started trying to bring the actual facts to limelight. Several reporters were targeted and mercilessly beaten up by the inmates of the ashram. It was also rendered to the allegations that Asaram and some of his other followers were involving in black magic and tantric practices in his ashrams. Another incident has been taken place in Chhind-wara town in Madhya Pradesh, two children Ramakrishna Yadav, (Nursery student) and Vedant Moraya, (Class I student) were found dead in the toilets of the educational institution run by Asaram. This dragged the public outcry to take an action against the Asaram and his followers who were involved in the serial murders of the children. Subsequently, Shri Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat has set up and Enquiry Commission under the Chairmanship of Mr. D.K Trivedi (Retired Justice) to find out the facts of Vaghela cousins killing. The committee submitted its report in 2008. However, the findings were not made public until the time they were produced before the State Assembly. Asaram has challenged the Committee’s report and filed a petition (15637/2012) before Gujarat High Court. The High Court rendered its opinion that the Commission with folded hands has served the convenience of the petitioner and his son to record their statements and evidences before it.
Two people who shared a close bonding with Asaram for a period more than 18 years were Raju Chandak and Amrut Prajapati. Chandak was the personal secretary of Asaram while Prajapati was the personal physician of Asaram. Both have clearly witnessed many of the illegal activities at the ashram. Raju Chandak has revealed some secret facts witnessed by him during his stay in the ashram before the Commission. As a result he was allegedly shot by three bullets by two people on motor cycle; however he was survived after the injuries. Amrut Prajapati, an ayurvedic doctor of Asaram has been attacked at least six times by the ashram inmates. He was one of the main people who witnessed the illegal activities and womanizing in the ashram. Subsequently in another incident, a minor girl who was aged of 16 years was a student in Asaram’s ashram in Chhind-wara, Madhya Pradesh. When she fell ill, the ashram authorities thought she was under the influence of spirit and therefore they sent that girl to Asaram’s other ashram which is situated in Jodhpur along with her parents. Asaram Bapu told her parents that he would perform ‘special yagna’ to free the girl from spirit and they can leave for their home. The parents left, after which the guru has allegedly raped the minor girl. The Minor girl along with her parents has lodged a complaint on Asaram for Rape under Sections 342 (Wrongful Confinement), 376 (Rape), 506 (Criminal intimidation), 354 (Sexual harassment) of IPC, Juvenile Justice Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. Subsequently, Jodhpur police has arrested the spiritual guru Asaram from Indore ashram after the FIR was registered by the minor girl. Asaram was imprisoned in Jail at Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
Later two sisters have lodged complaints on Asaram and his son Narayan Sai for raping them. According to the FIR, Asaram has allegedly raped the elder sister at Ahmedabad ashram. The young sister has alleged Narayan Sai of raping her in Surat. The incidents have been taken place during the period of 2002-2004. In this regard, two individual complaints were filed. The former against Asaram, by the elder sister and the latter against his son Narayan Sai, by the younger sister. They say that was only after the Godman’s arrest that they found the courage to file their complaints. The key witness in this case Amrut Prajapati was shot dead by unidentified persons in his own clinic in Rajkot in 2014. The accused were believed to be the followers of Asaram. Akhil Gupta, who was the former servant, cook and one of the key witnesses in the Asaram’s case, was also shot dead by two unidentified motor cycle assailants recently on 11th January, 2015 at Muzaffarnagar, Gujarat. However, whatever may be the consequences in the Asaram’s case, people should not help in suppressing the truth which is lagging behind the case. One has to recognize that the spirituality lies in them and self-determination is the key ingredient to success and to achieve anything in this world. One has to remove the cloth tied to their eyes which has kept them blind for years long and should stop believing these fake saints and self-proclaimed gods.
Finally, “Truth will ultimately prevail where there are pains taken to bring it to light.”- George Washington.
About the Author
Surya Sri is a final year student of NBM Law College, Visakhapatnam. She is determined to serve the nation and has an inclination towards Civil Services and is currently preparing for the same. She has pursued studies related to Human Rights and Criminology. She has keen interest in the fields of Public Policy and International affairs. She enjoys public speaking on social issues. Her other interests range from debating and researching on new aspects to interacting with people and being actively involved in community development. Her hobbies include listening to music, travelling and photography.