A book fair organised by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has drawn criticism for allowing a stall that sells books of Asaram Bapu, a self-proclaimed godman who is serving a life sentence for raping a minor girl.
The stall, named “Sant Shri Asharamji Satsahitya Mandir”, displays books that contain Asaram’s views on various topics such as religion, spirituality, human values, and women empowerment. The book Fair has been visited by thousands of people, some of whom expressed their displeasure at seeing Asaram’s books.
The 9th Vibrant Ahmedabad National Book Fair 2024 kicked off on Saturday at the GMDC Ground, with Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel inaugurating the event. The book fair, organized by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, will run from January 6 to 12, and will feature over 140 book stalls from 65 publishers across the country.
One of them was Sanjay Bhave, a renowned literary figure, who said he left the fair in disgust after seeing the stall. He questioned the AMC’s decision to give space to a convicted rapist and said it was unacceptable.
“I saw the stall of Asaram and I left the fair in a huff. AMC should know that Asaram has been convicted for the rape of a minor and has been condemned to life imprisonment till death. They have given the stall to Asaram earlier also and back then their argument must be that Asaram was only an under trial. But now this is not expected of the AMC,” he said.
However, the AMC officials claimed that they were not aware of the stall’s contents and said that the booking was done online by a publishing house.
“The stall booking for the fair is being done online. And it has been done in the name of the publishing house (and not by Asaram himself). So, we would not be in a position to know, if who is doing the booking,” said Mukesh Gadhvi, Deputy Municipal Commissioner of AMC.
Asaram, who has a large following across India, was convicted in 2018 for raping a 16-year-old girl at his ashram in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, in 2013. He was also accused of several other cases of sexual assault, murder, and land grabbing. He is currently lodged in Jodhpur Central Jail.
Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel Inaugurates Ahmedabad National Book Fair 2024. Click Here