By Ila Ananya
We’ve heard many horrifying stories about women being sexually assaulted by ‘godmen’. This time, the self-styled godman Annadurai, who is also known as Annamalai Siddhar and has been running the Aadisiva Brhamma Sivandiyargal Ashram, was arrested by the Gaduvancheri police, Chennai, for sexually assaulting a 24-year-old woman.
The woman had been assaulted in January, when she had gone to his ashram to be cured from migraines. She lodged her police complaint this week: Siddhar had reportedly told her he would use his ‘power’ to paralyse her two-year-old son if she made any complaint. He also told her he’d send people to kill her husband, who works as a tailor. In Siddhar’s case, he had set up his ashram five years ago and had got a fairly large group of followers. Since his arrest, his ashram too has been sealed off.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard stories like this, where godmen like Asaram Bapu, who is in jail for rape, had his bail plea rejected earlier this year. He’d been arrested by the Jodhpur police in August 2013 when two sisters lodged complaints of rape and illegal confinement against Bapu and his son Narayan Sai.
Also, remember how in July 2016, a case was filed against Rajneesh Grover, a ‘godman’ accused of sexually assaulting two women in Jaipur? The women used to reportedly attend his satsang, and had invited Grover to their house in Jaipur, where he gave them drugged food, calling it prasad, and assaulted them. We also remember two cases in Hyderabad, where a ‘baba’, who said he was performing a puja, sexually assaulted a minor girl. In another case, a ‘fake godman’ was also arrested in Hyderabad who also assaulted a minor girl.
It’s one thing to talk about ‘fake’ and ‘real’ godmen, and the personal belief that people have in them. But what is also true is that in multiple cases, these men have used the kind of following they have and the ‘power’ they say they wield, into intimidating anybody who approaches them. We don’t know what will happen in Siddhar’s case, but we can see how men like Asaram Bapu have tried to drag their cases on and on, and nothing has been done.