Jodhpur Turns Fortress Ahead Of Verdict In Asaram Rape Case: 10 Points

If convicted, Asaram faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in jail. The trial in the case has been marked by a string of deaths and attacks on witnesses.

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Asaram, 77, allegedly raped the girl at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur in August 2013.

Jodhpur:  Rajasthan's Jodhpur has been placed under a tight security blanket as a local court is expected to decide on Wednesday if self-styled godman Asaram, who runs 400 ashrams across India, was guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl five years ago. In view of possible reprisals from Asaram's followers, the administration has imposed prohibitory orders banning large gatherings. If convicted, Asaram faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in jail. The trial in the case has been marked by a string of deaths and attacks on witnesses. Even police officers who investigated the case say they faced constant threats.
Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this story:
  1. Jodhpur police chief Amandeep Singh said: "All buses and railway stations are being watched, we are checking all hotels and dharamshalas... the jail where the verdict will be read out is going to be a no man's land. We are not in the mood to tolerate nonsense".
  2. Asaram's ashram, located in Pal Road on the outskirts of the city, has been evacuated. The Jodhpur Police have also sealed all the entry points to the city. 
  3. The verdict in the case will be announced in the Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram's supporters cannot gather. The police have provided stringent security to judge Madhusudan Sharma, who will deliver the verdict.
  4. Asaram, 77, allegedly raped the girl at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur in August 2013. He has been accused of rape, trafficking, and under a stringent law on sexual crimes against children that could entail a life term if charges are proved.
  5. According to the chargesheet, the cook and warden of the ashram in Chhindwara, where the girl studied, claimed she was possessed by evil spirits and needed to be exorcised. The parents of the girl, who were long-time devotees of Asaram, took their daughter to the Jodhpur ashram, where Asaram sexually assaulted her, the chargesheet said.
  6. Asaram also faces another case in Surat, Gujarat. Two sisters have lodged separate complaints against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape and illegal confinement.
  7. Asaram has been in jail since his arrest in 2013. Over the last four years since the trial started against him, 9 witnesses in the two cases have been attacked. Three of them have died.
  8. 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.
  9. Ajay Pal Lamba, who was the Superintendent of police in Jodhpur in 2013 and responsible for forming the team that arrested Asaram, said he faced regular threats. "They tried to influence our team in every way. They would also threaten us," said the officer, who is now with the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
  10. The other critical witness in the case is the girl, who despite tremendous pressure, has stuck to her statement. "She was cross examined for nearly a month from May 13, 2014... but they could not get her to say anything that helped the accused in any way. She is a brave girl," said her lawyer PC Solani.




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