Asaram Bapu has been held guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl by a Jodphur court Wednesday, and has been sentenced to life imprisonment. The verdict was delivered by a special SC/ST court that convened inside the Jodhpur Central Jail. Three states – Rajasthan, Haryana and Gujarat – have beefed-up security as followers of the self-styled godman Asaram Bapu declared that they will hold rallies in his support.
In 2013, a 16-year-old girl had accused Asaram Bapu of rape on the intervening night of August 15 and 16 at an ashram of Asaram Bapu in Jodhpur. A case was lodged against Asaram and four others – Sanchita alias Shilpi, Sharad Chandra alias Sharat Chandra, Prakash and Shiva alias Sava Ram Hethvadiya – who were associates of Asaram at that time. Prakash and Shiva have been acquitted, Shilpi and Sharat Chandra have been awarded a 20-year jail term. Asaram Bapu rape case LIVE Updates
Asaram rape guilty: Heavy security across three states
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs asked three states to ensure there was adequate security to tackle any law and order issue that could arise. In a communication to the states, the MHA asked the governments to deploy additional forces in sensitive places and ensure that no violence takes place after the verdict.
“We are patrolling and checking all places of stay in the city. We have also set up checkposts at various strategic points to check vehicles entering the city,” Jodhpur police commissioner Ashok Rathore said.
Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana have a large number of followers of Asaram. Moreover, security was also put on high alert in the national capital. Police officials in New Delhi said they were in touch with their counterparts in Haryana and Rajasthan and would take immediate steps if any protests were held in the capital.
What is the Asaram Bapu Jodhpur rape case?
In August 2013, the parents of a 16-year-old girl had filed the zero FIR against Asaram in Delhi, accusing him of raping her at his Jodhpur ashram. On September 1, 2013, Asaram was flown in from his Indore ashram to Jodhpur and taken into police custody for a day. He was then sent to the Central Jail in Jodhpur and made to undergo a potency test, which he cleared.
While in jail, he sought special facilities such as Gangajal for his bath, special herbs and medicines, a bed and fruits and sweets, but the court rejected his plea. On November 6, 2013, the Jodhpur police filed a chargesheet against Asaram and four others. The Jodhpur court rejected Asaram’s bail plea several times. At least 42 witnesses have been cross-examined.