BAREILLY: A key witness in the rape case against self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Shahjahanpur district, the ninth attack against witnesses in the case.
35-year-old Kripal Singh was shot at by two motorcycle-borne persons in Puwayan area in Shahjahanpur when he was on his way home from the market on Friday night, police said today. Before escaping, the duo warned him against deposing against Asaram.
Singh, who sustained serious bullet injuries, was rushed from Shahjahanpur to a Bareilly hospital where he succumbed at around 2325 hours, Bareilly Circle Officer Mukul Dwivedi said.
Singh's body was being taken back to Shahjahanpur for cremation, he said. Special police teams have been constituted to track down the assailants, they said. In a statement given to Additional City Magistrate, Singh alleged that people connected to Asaram were threatening him for the last few days.
Police said Singh was an employee of a transport firm, whose owner's daughter had lodged a case against 74-year-old Asaram for allegedly sexually assaulting her at his ashram near Jodhpur in Rajasthan in 2013.
Singh is a key witness and his statement in the case against Asaram had been recorded some three months ago. Asaram has been in a jail in Jodhpur since September 2013. Two months later, he, along with his son Narayan Sai, was booked for the alleged rape of two sisters at their ashram in Gujarat's Surat.
In the last attack against Asaram's witness, his cook was shot dead in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh in January. Nine witnesses have been attacked so far and two have died.