A court in Jodhpur on Wednesday sentenced Asaram to life in jail, while also awarding 20-year jail terms to other two convicts, both his aides.
Asaram broke down in courtroom after hearing his sentence. Two other convicts namely Shilpi alias Sanchita Gupta and Sharatchandra were handed out 20 years each in jail.
This was just hours after the court had found them guilty of raping a teenager from Uttar Pradesh at Asaram’s ashram. Sharatchandra was the director of Chhindwara residential school where the 16-year-old girl was studying in Class 12, and Shilpi worked there as the warden of her hostel.
Asaram’s spokesperson Neelam Dubey had told the media that they will appeal the verdict in the Rajasthan High Court.
Ajay Lamba, the investigating offier who probed the Asaram Bapu rape case, said that the truth had finally prevailed.
“Finally truth prevailed.”Judgement is a landmark in criminal jurisprudence in the country. It is heartening to witness that if the law of land is implemented impartially, then even weakest can afford to take on the mights of most influential person like Asharam (sic),” Lamba wrote in a Facebook post. “Kudoes (sic) to the whole team who was associated with me in taking this case to its logical conclusion in the most efficient and professional manner despite all odds,” he was quoted by India Today.
His son Narayan Sai is also accused of raping a woman disciple of his father between 2002 and 2005 at their ashram in Surat. Asaram had several high profile followers with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rajasthan chief minister, Vasundhara Raje Scindia and other top BJP leaders frequently paying visits to his ashram in the past.
He was arrested on the complaint filed by a teenage girl from Shahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, who was studying at his ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. The victim had alleged that Asaram called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of 15 August, 2013. Asaram was arrested from Indore and brought to Jodhpur on 1 September 2013.
A chargesheet against Asaram and 4 other co-accused namely Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash had been filed by the police on November 6, 2013, under various sections of the POSCO Act, Juvenile Justice Act and IPC.
The trial of the case had begun in the district and session court on March 19, 2017, which had been shifted to the special court for SC/ST Cases on December 16, 2016. Nine witnesses who gathered the courage to testify against him were attacked, three of them killed.