NEW DELHI: Self-styled godman Asaram was sentenced to life in prison – until death – by a special trial court, which earlier today found him guilty of raping a minor +in 2013.
The two other people convicted in the rape got twenty years each in prison.
The verdict and sentence were both pronounced from Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram is lodged. This move was due to the fear of adverse reactions from Asaram’s followers, and a repeat of the violence that followed the verdict in the Gurmeet Ram Rahim case case last August.
Asaram, who’s been in jail since August 31, 2013, was accused of sexual assault on a 16-year-old girl at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The girl, who’s from Uttar Pradesh, was living in the ashram as a student. He was charged under sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
“Asaram is convicted, we have got justice. I want to thank everyone who supported us in this fight. Now I hope he will get strict punishment,” said the father of the rape survivor.
Ahead of the verdict, Jodhpur police imposed Section 144 in the city to prevent violence breaking out in case his followers were unhappy with the verdict .
The self-styled godman is embroiled in a rape case in Gujarat as well. Two Surat-based sisters had lodged separate complaints against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape and illegal confinement, among other charges. Over the course of the trial, Asaram unsuccessfully moved 12 bail applications, of which six were rejected by the trial court, three by the Rajasthan high court and three by the Supreme Court.
A special courtroom was set up inside the Jodhpur Central Jail for pronouncement of the verdict, due to security reasons, because Asaram has huge following across the country.
Fearing threat to law and order in the city from Asaram’s followers, the Jodhpur police had requested the Rajasthan HC to direct the trial court to pronounce its judgment from inside the jail. After getting the HC’s nod, police initiated unprecedented security measures around the city. A 10-day prohibitory order from April 21-30 has also been issued.
“We have cleared up his (Asaram’s) ashrams and asked all hotels and guest-houses to not allow any of his followers. We have been keeping an eye on bus and railway stations as well as the airport to ensure that his followers did not enter the city,” said Jodhpur DCP Amandeep Singh Kapoor.
The Centre earlier directed Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and UP to tighten security and deploy additional forces. The Shahjahanpur district administration has stepped up security around the rape survivor’s house.
Once upon a time in Ajmer, Asaram was a ‘tongawala’
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