Police taking into custody a follower of Ram Bahadur Bamjan for interrogation at Bomjan’s ashram in Sindhuli on Friday. Although the police had gone to the ashram Friday to arrest Bamjan, who has been accused of raping and disappearing his disciples, he could not be found there. Photo: Anil Bhandari/Republica
SINDHUPALCHOWK, Feb 8: Police raided the ashram of Ram Bahadur Bamjan in Sindhuli district on Friday, but returned empty-handed. The ‘self-proclaimed god-man’ was not to be found there.
A team of police from Sarlahi, Sindhuli and the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) reached the ashram at 6 am Friday, but Bamjan was not found, according to the police. Bamjan is accused of raping his disciples at the ashram and murder.
According to Superintendent of Police Ranju Sigdel, chief of Sindhuli District Police Office, a case has been filed against Bamjan accusing him of rape. He said a police team has been deployed since Friday morning to nab Bamjan.
“A disciple of Bamjan has been taken into custody from the ashram for investigations,” said SP Sigdel, adding that the raid was part of the investigations. The man taken into custody has been identified as Gyan Bahadur Bamjan.
When police reached the ashram, only a few of his disciples were there.
The CIB started investigations into the self-styled godman following news reports that five of his followers had disappeared from his ashrams. Three of them had allegedly disappeared from his ashram at Bandegaun in Sindhupalchowk. The CIB suspected that one of the disappeared was murdered inside the ashram.
In the course of investigations, the CIB last year recovered empty packets of salt. The salt was suspected to have been used for burying the bodies of Bamjan’s disappeared followers. The CIB found the empty salt packets while digging at locations where the bodies were suspected to have been buried.
Bamjan had first come to the Sindhuli ashram in Kamalamai Municipality-7 on June 25, 2011. After spending some three months there, he had returned to his ashram in Sarlah, before turning back to the Sindhuli ashram in 2018.
Bamjan has not attended any public function since family members of those who have gone missing from his ashrams filed complaints at various district police offices in the last week of December 2017.
Bamjan and his supporters have been accused of disappearing at least five followers of the godman who were living in his ashrams. Two of them – Sancha Lal Waiba and Rita Bot – were allegedly murdered and subsequently disappeared from Bamjan’s previous ashrams in Sindhupalchwok and Sarlahi.