July 12, 2015 12:00:00 am
A day after the fatal attack on Kripal Singh, a 35-year-old witness in the rape case against self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, his family said they did not know why he had been targeted and claimed he had not complained of any threats in the past. The family has filed an FIR against unidentified persons, but has not made any reference to Asaram.
However, the alleged rape victim’s father claimed that Singh had been threatened twice earlier.
Singh, who was operated upon at the Mission Hospital in Bareilly on Saturday, died later that day. His statement was recorded by Additional City Magistrate, Bareilly, before his death. Dr Deepak Kodesia, general surgeon, said Singh had suffered damage to the spinal cord in the attack.
“We have no idea why my husband was attacked. His testimony in the case was just that he knows the family of the girl who filed the rape charge against Asaram. My husband told the court about the girl’s family background only. We cannot understand how this statement could harm Asaram in the case,” said his wife Moni Singh.
She said Singh had never complained of any threat perception from Asaram or his associates. “My husband never told me or any family member that he was a witness in the case. We came to know about it two months ago, when local newspapers published reports that he had recorded his statement in the Jodhpur court. My husband had gone to Jodhpur without informing anyone,” she said.
“We would have not allowed him to agree to become a witness in the case and give his statement before the court if we knew… We are middle class people and cannot get involved in matters related to people like Asaram,” she said.
“My brother came in contact with Asaram about eight years ago. He used to take part in satsangs, but after the rape case was filed, he snapped all his connections with Asaram,” said Singh’s elder brother Veer Pal Singh.
Singh was one of nine witnesses — including the alleged victim and her parents — from Shahjahanpur in the case. His brother-in-law, Avaneesh, said Singh was employed with a transport company owned by the victim’s father. But the girl’s father denied that Singh was his employee.
On Friday evening, Singh was attacked while he was on his way home on a motorcycle. Two youths on a motorcycle reportedly opened fire from a countrymade pistol and fled from the spot.
The alleged rape victim’s father claimed that Asaram’s associates were behind the attack. “Singh was threatened twice earlier, before and after he recorded his statement in Jodhpur court,” said the alleged rape victim’s father. When contacted, Shahjahanpur SP Babloo Kumar said Singh had not complained of any threats earlier.
“Efforts are being made to weaken the case. Before this, one witness was killed and five attacked,” said the alleged victim’s father, alleging that he also faced threats. “I was offered Rs 50 crore from a person, who claimed to be sent by Asaram, not to pursue the case,” he alleged.
“I request the central and state government to take cognizance and order a CBI inquiry into the matter. I am also planning to approach the court to seek a CBI investigation into the attack on witnesses,” he said.
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