news Sunday, July 12, 2015 - 05:30
In the ninth attack on a key witness in the Asaram Bapu case, 35-year-old Kripal Singh was shot dead in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur district on Friday night. A report by NDTV mentions that Singh was on his way home from a market when he was shot at by two unidentified persons according to the police. The duo reportedly warned Singh against deposing in the case. Singh was rushed to a hospital in Bareilly from Shahjahanpur where he succumbed to his injuries late on Friday night. The police mentioned that Singh was the head of a transport firm and his daughter had registered a case against the 74-year-old godman for allegedly sexually assaulting her at his Jodhpur ashram in 2013. He was believed to be a key witness in the case against Asaram and his statement in the case had been recorded close to three months ago. The report adds that special police teams have been deployed to track down his assailants. The attack on Singh is not an isolated incident of violence against witnesses in the case against the seer. The man, fondly known by his followers as Bapuji, has been in jail since August 2013 after he was accused of raping a schoolgirl at his ashram. Witnesses have often claimed to have been threatened and intimidated by his followers.  Police protection, though provided to some, does not seem to have worked. Chawla is reportedly the fourth such witness to have been attacked. But not all were as lucky as him to have escaped alive.  Amrut Prajapati, a former Asaram aide, was shot at on May 23, 2014, two weeks after which he succumbed to his injuries. Prajapati, an ayurvedic doctor, was a witness in the rape case against Asaram. On February 13, 2015, Rahul K Sachan alias “Laptop Baba” was reportedly stabbed by an unidentified man in a court premises in Jodhpur. A witness in the Surat rape case, Sachan was coming out of the court after giving his statement when the attack took place. He was rushed to the hospital where his condition was reported to be stable. Mahendra Chawla, one of the key witnesses in the Surat rape case against Asaram Bapu’s son Narayan Sai, was shot at in Panipat, Haryana by two unidentified men in May this year. Another former aide of Asaram, Akhil Gupta, was shot dead by unkown persons on his way home on January 11, 2015. 35-year-old Gupta, a key witness in the case, used to work as a cook for Asaram. Apart from the above, there have also been other smaller reports of witnesses claiming to have been threatened by Asaram's supporters for speaking against him. In 2013, the family of the girl who accused Asaram Bapu of sexually assaulting her claimed that they had received death threats from followers of Asaram. In October 2013, the then Surat Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Shobha Bhutada filed a complaint stating that she had been receiving threatening calls from supporters of Asaram. "Shobha Bhutada received a threatening phone call saying she should stop looking for Asaram`s son Narayan Sai or she would be shot. The mobile number used is registered to a Dashrat Singh in MP," a report quotes Inspector CK Patel as saying.

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