Self-styled godman Ashu Maharaj sent to 14-day judicial custody in rape case

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Self-styled godman Ashu Maharaj alias Asif Khan has been sent to judicial custody till October 1, 2018, by a Delhi court for allegedly raping a woman. Maharaj was arrested by a team of Delhi Polices Crime Branch on Friday after sufficient evidence was found to undertake further investigations. The case has been reportedly filed under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The accused has also been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. According to police, a woman had alleged that Ashu Maharaj raped her and her minor daughter at his ashram located near Hauz Khas in the national capital. In her complaint to police, the woman had stated that Maharaj and his son Samar Khan raped her several times between 2008 and 2013. She was also forced to bring her minor daughter to an ashram, and when she did, they raped her too. In the complaint, the victim said, He kept threatening me and exploiting me. Not just him, but his friends as well. In 2016, on one occasion, his son Samar and the latters friend Saurabh, who are builders by profession, also assaulted me. I had informed the same to Guruji and he responded by saying, If I am eating (referring to the woman), my son will also eat, reports DNA. Ashu Maharaj, who was formerly known as Asif Khan, is an astrologer and has a number of followers from across the country. A report published by NavBharat Times claimed that Ashu Maharaj used to repair cycle punctures in JJ colony before moving on to become an astrologer. The rape cases against the so-called religious leaders are not new. Earlier religious leaders like Asaram Bapu and Gurmeet Ram Rahim have also been found guilty of crimes against women. Asaram is facing life imprisonment and is lodged in Jodhpur Central jail. Recently, he sent a mercy plea to the Governor of Rajasthan for diluting his life sentence on health grounds. However, the proposal is still under consideration.