October 3, 2022

Gunning for Godman: A page turner on Operation Asaram

I first heard about Asaram, when my best friend told me that she had won a competition back in school days which was held by the trust of spiritual leader Asaram and as a result of her first position in the competition, she receives a monthly magazine about the teachings and miracles of asaram. When I asked she gave me some magazines to read.

But soon after when we saw the news of his arrest and rape charges, we (me and my friend) came to know about his ‘true miracles and teachings’.

From the time of his arrest and till the time of his conviction, I tried to follow Asaram case but after reading the book ‘Gunning for Godman’, I realized that I missed many crucial thing of the case.

‘Gunning for Godman’ is a book which is authored by IPS Ajay lamba who was then DSP of Jodhpur (west) and the chief investigator in Asaram Case, who created the ‘Vyuh’ to arrest Asaram to help the victim in getting justice from court of law.

This book covers the time period of 6 years; it starts from the time when the DCP Ajay received a phone call from Delhi police and he was told that an FIR has been registered against Asaram in Delhi regarding the Rape of a minor and the location where this rape has been committed, is located in the jurisdiction of jodhpur police; and book ends with the phone call of victim’s father when he called to thank IPS Ajay lamba for his dedication in the case.

This book begins from FIR episode, and move on to auhtor’s game planning to arrest asaram, it includes his planning to collect evidence before Asaram’s arrest, informing media personal about the case in furtherance of his plan, his team making, and the reason for such team making, and the entire episode of Asaram’s arrest which was nothing less than a high budget super hit motion picture, then the search of good prosecutor who can get justice for victim and also do justice with the too much hard work of police which they did in collecting evidence and arrest. And in the last chapters, we read the legal matters of the case and it end with the pronouncement of judgement by the court in jail premises.

The first chapter of the book explore the early life of Asaram when he was not any baba. Book notes that prior to him establishing himself as a religious leader, Asumal (Asaram’s prior name) was involved in a variety of jobs: from selling liquor and tea to repairing cycles.

Book further informed that how he became a religious leader, and got ‘ultimate knowledge’ and also how this ultimate knowledge turned into the million dollar’s empire.

This is not the story of Asaram, this is the story of some dedicated police cops who put their everything at stake in getting justice for a minor girl who had only hope from those police cops. Police team headed by IPS Ajay lamba tried to ensure that criminal come under the trap of police.

Author mentioned that after the FIR, a lawyer filed a petition in High Court to transfer the case to CBI, and due to this, IPS Ajay wanted to prove that jodhpur police is not less efficient than CBI and police can also investigate the case with impartiality, and with full understanding.

Book is perfect suggestion for the police personnals and every that person who are involved to the police and criminal justice system. This is not a simple story of arrest where author wanted to tell that how they just arrested the criminal after reaching at his spot. But arresting the criminal, who was just one seat below to the God himself, and had millions of followers and the glued connection with the political power holders, was not a cake walk for police. IPS Ajay made a perfect strategy to trap the rat in the cage. In this strategy, they first collected evidence, gained the confidence of Asaram’s followers who were residing there in jodhpur by saying that police are just doing the formality, and also got the confidence of Media to curb the situation when people might start to think against police.

Reading this book is like Bing watching any series, a series which you want to complete in just one day and if you don’t complete, it continues to roam in your mind. Those who was coined the words ‘page turner’, ‘gripping’, ‘unputdownable’, I think they coined these words for the books like this. There were many events which were dramatic and heroic also.

At one occasion, police examined the jurisdiction for the case, and for this, a jodhpur city patwari measured the land with measuring tape, just to make sure that the land where rape committed, fall under the jurisdiction of DCP (west), i.e. IPS Ajay Lamba.

At other occasion when police were struggling to arrest Asaram at his ashram, and when an officer of police arrested asaram, asaram said that they are doing mistake and they had to free him after one call. When asaram said this, that police officer switched off the mobile phone at the face of asaram and other police officer also followed him and switched off their mobile phone too.

Generally, we see that in movie during any escaping from anywhere, a person leaves behind. But in this case, it happened in reality when police were arresting asaram, a lady police officer left behind and it was the biggest shock to the police cops because asaram’s followers were blind at that time and they could have lynched any police officer if they see any among them.

Beside police cops, victim and her family was also entitled for appreciation. Asaram’s case almost ruined them financially, mentally and emotionally but they did not lose the courage. Author said that in most distressful time, under unbearable pressure, facing death threats, this was the face of the girl which always encouraged them to face all these things.

While appreciating, victim’s brave heart, author said that,

We would never have had the verdict in our favour if she would not have been so strong and truthful despite being put repeatedly on the stand for more than a month.”

This book is good recommendation for the police officer who want to gain experience in investigation, the experience for team building for any investigation, and the strategy to be followed in the tough and big investigation, this book is also a best read to the people of law background who need to learn the way of police investigation, the importance of prosecutors in a criminal case, the need of admissible and enough evidence to achieve the success in the case.  

I want to conclude this review with a line which author said in the book,

“if the law of land is implemented impartially, then even the weakest can afford to take on the might of the most influential.”

This article is written by Arshi hayat Gnagohi. She is a lawyer, blogger at ababeelfolks and writes on laws, culture, books, cinema, food and literature.