Jaipur, April 25. The self-styled godman Asaram Bapu has been pronounced life sentence for raping a minor girl at his ashram in Manai village in 2013 near Jodhpur.
The Jodhpur sessions court had convicted Asaram Bapu in the morning and acquitted two other accused Prakash and Shiva.
Other two accused Shilpi and Sharad each have been given a sentence of 20 year imprisonment.
Asaram was charged with raping of 16-year-old girl from Uttar Pradesh’s Shahajahanpur in 2013. He was arrested later that year.
Asaram Bapu has been in Jodhpur jail since 2013 on the charges of raping a teenage girl from Shahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh. The victim was studying at the godman’s ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. The victim had accused the godman of raping her at his ashram on the night of August 15, 2013.
He was arrested from Indore and brought to Jodhpur on 1 September, 2013. The godman and four others Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash were booked by the police under various sections of the POSCO Act, Juvenile Justice Act and IPC on November 6, 2013.
The godman has been under judicial custody since September 2, 2013. Bringing him for court hearings has been a pain in the neck for Jodhpur police as his followers indulged in disrupting traffic and chaos in court premises. For a certain period, hearing of the case was also held in the jail premises.
Asaram moved bail applications, albeit unsuccessfully, a dozen times, of which six were rejected by the trial court, three by the Rajasthan High Court and the remaining by the Supreme Court.
Prohibitory Orders in Jodhpur
Final arguments in the case had been completed by the special court for SC/ST cases on April 7 and the order was kept reserved for April 25.
Apprehensive of law and order situation following the verdict, Jodhpur police had sought permission that the verdict be pronounced in the jail premises.
Prohibitory orders were also issued in Jodhpur city from April 21 due to security reasons following directions from the Rajasthan High Court. Security was beefed up ahead of the verdict all around the city including railway stations and bus stands.
The verdict has been pronounced in the courtroom in jail premises in the presence of Asaram Bapu, the co-accused, the defense and prosecution counsels.
The Union Home Ministry had also issued advisory to Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh in view of the large-scale violence witnessed after the verdict in the rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim last year.
Havan and worships at Asaram Ashrams
Asaram followers in India and abroad held havans and prayer meets for his release on Tuesday. The godman’s official website www.ashram.org was full of pics posted by his followers ‘praying for world peace and ‘acquittal in the fabricated case against Bapuji’. Havans were held at Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh, Nasirabad in Rajasthan, Prayagraj (U.P.), Patiala (Punjab), Yamunanagar (Haryana) and Jammu, Ontario (Canada) among others.
The followers ‘sadhaks’ were duly informed of the change in court timings, the date of the verdict and instructions to hold special prayers for his acquittal.