When the “Gunning For The GodMan” authored by the Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, Ajay Lamba and editor-writer, Sanjeev Mathur was delivered to me last month, I was busy covering Bihar elections for various news related journals and papers.
The journalists reflexively react to what is happening around and act in immediacy to gather the information, process it and write it. This is what was happening to me and in the process I was not in the mental frame to read the Gunning For The Godman telling the tale of Asaram Bapu who has been languishing in jail since 2018 after he was convicted for life in connection with raping a minor girl.
Incidentally, I picked up the book to glance through its pages for a change on Saturday. But as I began reading it, I forgot about everything else. The first sentence led to the second sentence, the second to the third and in the process I read the whole book from cover to cover in the next eight hours or so.
The salesmen use the word “unputdownable” or “page turner” to promote the books and draw the readers’ attention. But on the completion of reading it, I genuinely feel that the Gunning For The Godman is what the words, “unputdownable” and “page turner” actually stand for.
Reams have been written on Asaram and many of us may be under the impression that we know everything about the controversial Godman. But believe me—if you read The Gunning For The Godman, you will find a rare insight into the life journey of a cruel psychopath masquerading as a Godman and fooling the world.
We are living in an era when the people are fast losing faith in the system—the police, judiciary and political structure. The Gunning for The Godman is a kind of stuff that will tell that everything has not lost and if one works with diligence, honesty and commitment one can secure justice amidst a variety of elements working for the cross purposes with law and justice system.
“Who Is Asaram?”—it’s introductory chapter of the book giving factually authentic account of how Asaram—a small-time seller in tea and liquor grew into a Godman building his empire worth thousands of crores, getting high and mighty of the land on his feet and mesmerising the world. You will understand that it was not a miracle that he cured some ailing people and brought a dead cow to live. You will understand the real meaning of the miracle—how Asaram defiled and ravaged countless minor girls by fooling them and their parents to believe that he was an incarnation of the God.
The following chapters—The Beginning, The Testimony, The Tough Twenty, The Game of Many Manoeuvres, No Exit, Post Arrest Perils, Towards a Watertight Case, The Trial, The Judgement and Aftermath—will empirically unravel the manner in which Ajay Lamba and his team of police officers broke through the shady mechanism that the serial sinner in Asaram had built over the years to guard himself against the law—and brought him to justice.
The book brings to the fore a genuine leader in Ajay Lamba trusting and encouraging the team members towards righteous cause and at the same time guarding them against enormous threat on their lives. “Rape toh hua hai, Sir”—this is a small sentence that the woman station house office (SHO) of Jodhpur women police station, Mukta Parekh says to her DCP (Ajay) in the second chapter of the book on the basis of her interaction with the victim. And Ajay’s honest belief in Mukta’s sentence makes him work on it, gather the evidences and make such a water-tight case which eventually brings out the true colour of Asaram and puts him to justice. And Ajay—the lead author of the book—doesn’t claim the bravado of doing it alone. He works with his team, giving due credit to all the team members that comprise Mukta, another woman police officer, Chanchal and several other members of his team.
It is hard to say which chapter of the book is most interesting. All its ten chapters are equally gripping. While the first chapter gives the readers insight into the life and personality of Asaram, the second chapter deals with getting the testimony of the victim, the third chapter narrates the tough time Ajay and his team members undergo in gathering the evidence, the fourth one delves in the manoeuvres and manipulations that Asaram had built against the law, the fifth one tells how the victims had no escape once they got into Asaram’s clutch and then how Asaram gets his fortification impregnated and gets arrested, the sixth one is about the dangers coming in the way after his arrest, the seventh one is about making a water-tight case, the eighth one is about the intricate trial process, the ninth one is about the judgement and the last one deals with the Aftermath that is still continuing.
Thanks to the highly skilled co-author, Sanjeev Mathur who has put the facts in the manner that leads the readers through its pages in a magical manner. The facts furnished by the lead author Ajay and the craft employed by the co-author Sajeev have done wonders with the book. Here also it’s the team of Ajay and Sanjeev that has brought out the miraculous stuff in the shape of the book.
My only criticism and that is the minor one about the book is it lacks in psychological input about how Asaram morphed himself into an unbelievable demon from a small time grocer and tea/liquor seller at the very early age in his life. It would have been better if the authors had fleshed out more about his early life with the tools of social and behavioural psychology.
But in no way, my observation makes the book less interesting and less useful. I recommend to the readers to buy and read it with the assurance that they will surely enjoy it. Take it from me—once you start reading it you will forget about your tea and meal. It’s worth reading and also very necessary in the era of ubiquitous god-men ruling the roost all over in our land.
Publisher: Harper Collins
Price: Rs 499