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Indian religious leader arrested on rape charge

JAIPUR, India – A controversial spiritual guru was arrested early Sunday on a rape charge filed by a teen-age girl in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan, police said.

Asaram Bapu was arrested at a spiritual retreat in central India and flown to the city of Jodhpur where police say he is wanted for allegedly raping the girl, said Ajay Singh Lamba, a top police officer.

The case is the latest in a series of high-profile rape cases in India that have fueled public protests and raised questions about how police handle the cases and treat the victims.

The girl filed a complaint two weeks ago accusing the Hindu religious preacher of raping her when she visited his retreat in Jodhpur with her mother. The girl’s family says they have been followers of Asaram Bapu for more than a decade.

Asaram Bapu, who has hundreds of thousands of followers in India and is well known for his discourses on Hindu religion, has denied the charge.

There was drama Saturday when Rajasthan police arrived at his retreat to arrest Asaram Bapu. Hundreds of his supporters thronged the ashram and attacked television crews.

Asaram Bapu was questioned for nearly three hours before he was arrested, police said.

Asaram Bapu outraged many Indians earlier this year when he said the victim of a gang rape on a New Delhi bus would have been let off if she had addressed her attackers as brothers and pleaded with them to spare her.

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