From Death Threats To Stopping Daughter’s Education: The Struggle Of Top Cop Who Led Asaram’s Arrest & Conviction
April 26th, 2018
A special court in Jodhpur on Wednesday convicted Asaram of raping a minor girl at his ashram in 2013. He has been awarded life imprisonment till death. While India celebrates this victory, it is essential that we recognise and salute the officer whose hard work and honesty made it all possible.
As the deputy commissioner of police (DCP), Jodhpur West, Ajay Pal Lamba on August 20, 2013 was handed over the most high profile case in recent history. What followed was the relentless media spotlight, killing of witnesses and the threats to police officers by Asaram’s followers.
According to News18, the Jodhpur police led by Lamba had to get through many hurdles to imprison Asaram for the rape charges. Arresting Asaram, who was at the peak of his spirituality “business” with several high profile followers and tens of thousands of devotees with blind devotion, was no easy task. According to Lamba, the statement by the victim and the evidence matched with the statement played a crucial role in his arrest. Meticulous planning, timely investigations and steadfast commitment to the Rajasthan police lead by Lamba resulted in justice being served.
Over the last five years of investigating Asaram, there was enormous pressure on Lamba about the case. Ajay Pal Lamba had received more than 2,000 threatening letters and hundreds of phone calls while he was leading the investigation into the rape case against the self-proclaimed godman.”The letters carried abuses and threatened they would kill my family if anything happened to Asaram. My phone would not stop ringing, and I stopped receiving calls from unknown numbers. The letters stopped only when I shifted to Udaipur,” Lamba told Hindustan Times. For a while, he had to stop sending his daughter to school and his wife was scared to step out of the house. In the report, he also states that one of the accused, arrested for the murder of a witness in the case, admitted that his next target was Chanchal Mishra, who was the then deputy superintendent of police with Jodhpur Police and investigating officer in the case.
Lamba says although there was no political pressure of any kind, he felt that the longer the investigation is delayed, the more it tangles up. His team filed its first charge sheet in the Asaram rape case in a little over ten weeks. When the 11-member team went to deliver a summon notice to Asaram at his ashram in Madhya Pradesh, they faced a mob of about 8,000 people. His team was harassed, and it took them 10 hours just to be able to deliver that piece of paper. Lamba says the media coverage helped dampen the morale of the supporters to some extent and that helped the local police to take control of the situation in Indore. Jodhpur police entered the ashram on August 30, 2013, to arrest him. “He requested that flight takes him and the police agreed. During the night, he was talking to his kids in Sindhi and asked them to amass 25,000 of his supporters by morning. ‘I will see how they will take me then’, he said on the phone. One of my men understood Sindhi and his plan was foiled,” Lamba said to Hindustan Times. According to Lamba the victim’s statement, multiple testimonies and Asaram’s potency test helped the team frame a watertight case, which resulted in Asaram’s conviction.
Lamba, a 2005 batch Indian Police Service officer, now the superintendent of police (anti-corruption bureau) in Jodhpur, in his Facebook post, quoted, “Judgement is a landmark in criminal jurisprudence in the country. It is heartening to witness that if the law of the land is implemented impartially, then even weakest can afford to take on the rights of a most influential person like Asaram.” Also he expresses his gratitude to colleagues, seniors and all members of the team whose support meant a lot to him in the entire phase of this case. He also thanks well-wishers who stand for the cause directly or indirectly by contributing in own ways.
Hats off to this officer whose steadfastness, honesty and unwavering conviction to get justice for the victim has restored our trust and confidence in our country’s justice system.