Jodhpur (Rajasthan): Asaram, a 77-year-old self-styled godman
Asaram rape case verdict out. Self-styled godman sentenced to life imprisonment.
, who runs 400 ashrams across India
, was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a 16-year-old girl in Jodhpur. The verdict today was delivered inside a Jodhpur jail as taking Asaram to court would risk his followers from turning violent on the streets. Four states - Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat - were put on high alert.
The 16-year-old girl from Shahajahanpur of Uttar Pradesh had accused Asaram of raping her at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur on the night of August 15, 2013, while in Gujarat, two Surat-based sisters lodged separate complaints against the self-styled godman and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape.
Here are the developments in Asaram rape case so far:
Asaram was taken into police custody in August 2013, following which he was taken to Jodhpur Central jail. A month later, a potency test was conducted on him and was produced before a Jodhpur court. While the self-styled godman has filed a number of bail petitions, a total of 12 applications were rejected by the trial court, the Rajasthan High Court, and the Supreme Court.
In November the same year, the charge-sheet filed against Asaram and four others had indicated blackmail in exchange of sexual favours, after which the former was booked under Sections 342, 376, 506 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).2014-2015
In the years that followed, a number of the key witnesses in the case were attacked or went missing.
Asaram's doctor Amrut Prajapat was shot in Gujarat's Rajkot in June 2014. His cook Akhil Gupta and another key witness, Kripal Singh, were shot dead in 2015 in Uttar Pradesh. Mahendra Chawala and Rahul Sachan, two other witnesses, were attacked on the premises of the Jodhpur court in 2015. They survived and went ahead to depose against Asaram.
Verdict in 2018:
Asaram who has thousands of followers across India with extensive money and muscle power, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in jail. Asaram received the maximum punishment under a stringent law meant to protect children from sexual assault -- a life term in prison. He was also charged under two other laws; under each, he got another 20 years in jail.
Ahead of the pronouncement of the verdict, security was beefed up in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana. The judgement in the case was pronounced inside the Jodhpur Central Jail, fearing possible communal violence similar to that in Panchkula following the conviction of controversial godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case.
The Jodhpur Court had dismissed a petition seeking entry of media persons in Central Jail of Jodhpur for the coverage of the judgement.
Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) will be imposed in Jodhpur till April 30.
(With Inputs From ANI)