A special court in Jodhpur will on Wednesday deliver its verdict in the rape case against self-styled godman Asaram. He is accused of raping a 16-year-old girl at his ashram in Jodhpur in 2013. Ahead of the crucial verdict, the Centre has asked Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana to tighten security and deploy additional forces to ensure no violence takes place after the judgement. Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana have a large number of followers of Asaram.
Prohibitory orders have already been issued in Jodhpur where the trial court will deliver its verdict in the Central Jail premises, as directed by the Rajasthan High Court.
What is the Asaram rape case
In 2013, a girl from Uttar Pradesh, whose parents were followers of Asaram, accused him of raping her at his ashram. The girl was brought to his ashram for treatment after she fainted one day at her school. The girl’s parents were told that she possessed evil spirits and she can be cured at the ashram.
When the parents took her to the ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur they were told that she needed to be left alone. The later alleged that on August 15, 2013, Asaram sexually assaulted her. In her complaint on August 20 at a Delhi police station, she said that she was asked to perform oral sex and was touched inappropriately.
Police action and violence over Asaram rape case
The case was then shifted to Jodhpur and an FIR was lodged. Asaram was subsequently arrested from Indore which triggered violence in several areas by his followers and attack on policemen and media personnel. The supporters also stopped several trains and blocked highways in protest against Asaram’s arrest.
He was produced before a Jodhpur court and potency test was conducted on him. He was sent to judicial custody on September 2, 2013. He has been languishing in jail since then as his bail plea was rejected several times. In all, Asaram has unsuccessfully moved 12 bail applications, a few in other rape cases, of which six were rejected by the trial court, three by the Rajasthan High Court and three by the Supreme Court.
Chargesheet in Asaram rape case
In November 2013, the Jodhpur police filed a chargesheet against Asaram and four co-accused in the case. In the chargesheet, it was alleged also that Asaram had video-recorded his sexual acts with several women to blackmail them into granting him further sexual favours. He was booked under Sections 342, 376, 506 and 509 of the IPC, as well as under Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and sections 23 and 26 of the Juvenile Justice Act, which was later dropped.
Asaram rape case: Witness killings
Ever since the trial in the case began in 2014, several witnesses were attacked by Asaram supporters. Asaram’s personal aide, Amrut Prajapati, who was a key witness in the case was shot dead in May 2014. Another associate, Akhil Gupta who worked as a cook at the ashram, was killed the following year in Muzaffarnagar. In February 2015, Rahul Sachan, a witness in the rape case, was stabbed at the Jodhpur court premises. In May 2015, two unidentified assailants shot at Mahender Chawla, a key witness in the sexual abuse case against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai. Later in November that year, a key witness, Rahul Sachan, went missing from Kaiserbagh bus stand in Lucknow. A CBI inquiry was ordered to probe his missing.
Verdict awaited in Asaram rape case, security stepped up around victim’s house
The trail was completed on April 7 and the verdict was reserved for April 25. With a special court in Jodhpur all set to pronounce its verdict, the district administration here has stepped up security around the house of the victim. READ | Asaram Bapu rape case verdict on April 25: Violence, witness killings; all that happened in last 5 years