A Jodhpur Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Court court on Wednesday convicted Asaram of rape before sentencing him to life. The verdict was announced by judge Madhusudan Sharma inside the Jodhpur Central Jail, which was shut even for mediapersons .
Elaborate security arrangements were made and prohibitory orders issued in the city fearing violence from followers of Asaram. “We have made all arrangements for the judgement day. Magistrate along with court staff, Asaram and co-accused along with the defence and prosecution counsels will remain present in the courtroom in jail premises,” DIG, Jail, Vikram Singh was quoted by news agency PTI.
Final arguments in the case were completed for SC/ST cases on 7 April as the court reserved its order for 25 April.
The 76-year-old Asaram, who was facing a trial for raping a teen girl at his ashramin Jodhpur in 2013, has been in jail since then. He’s applied for bail at least on seven occasions with court rejecting all his pleas.
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.
Last year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had given stringent 20-year jail sentence to another self-styled baba, Gurmeet Singh, after he was convicted in two rape cases.
- Asaram sentenced to life in Jail, his two aides Shilpi Gupta and Sharatchandra given 20-year jail term each
- Asaram chanting ‘Hari Om’ in court after learning about his conviction in 2013 rape case: ABP News quoting Sources
- 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. I also hope the witnesses who were murdered or kidnapped get justice: Father of Shahjahanpur victim quoted by ANI
- We will approach higher court. Bapuji has always asked his supporters to maintain calm: Neelam Dubey, Asaram’s spokesperson
- We will discuss with our legal team and then decide our future course of action. We have confidence in our judiciary: Neelam Dubey, Asaram spokesperson
- Asaram and all other accused have been convicted by Jodhpur Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Court in a rape case, reports news agency ANI