Bhadohi (Uttar Pradesh): A self-styled godman was arrested and six minor girls were rescued from his "ashram" built allegedly on an encroached land of the gram sabha in Bhadohi district of Uttar Pradesh, police said on Tuesday.
Police pulled down the ashram on Monday and got the land encroached by "godman" Rajendra Prasad for nearly four months in Natwa village freed, District Magistrate Vishakh G said.
Five people, including Prasad, have been arrested from the ashram from where six minor girls have been freed and sent to Bal Kalyan Samiti for counselling, the magistrate said.
The DM said that like Ram Vriksha of Jawaharbagh Mathura, Prasad had also prepared a team of lathi-wielding youths, scripted his own "constitution" and had collected nearly Rs 20 lakh in donation. He was also running his writ among illegal land grabbers and admitted it before the media.
A case has been registered against nine named and 50 unnamed people, the officer added.
SP Shachindra Patel said Prasad is a resident of Dattipurva village in Vindhyachal area of Mirzapur district and had earlier been arrested for immoral acts.
He had been residing in Natwa village since his release on bail, the SP said, adding that preliminary inquiry suggests that the girls were being used for immoral activities.
Prasad's involvement in criminal activities as well as his links with naxalites will also be probed, the SP said.
According to Patel, several of his supporters fled the scene when the police team reached there and were hiding in nearby areas and a vigil is being maintained to ensure that they do not regroup again.
The issue had come to light when the mother of one of the girls complained against Prasad that she had been kidnapped after which police had raided the ashram and got her freed.
Prasad and his supporters had also staged a protest on the National Highway 2 to free the 16-year-old girl and indulged in brick batting in which three policemen including an inspector were injured. The girl was freed two days ago.