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Asaram, Gurmeet Ram Rahim, Nithyananda and more: The ‘godmen’ who faced criminal cases

There is a history of 'godmen' in the country who have become centres of controversies over allegations, and sometimes convictions, of sexual abuse or rape cases,

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: April 25, 2018 3:00:19 pm
asaram bapu, asaram rape case, asaram rape verdict, other cases like asaram, godmen sexual assault cases, indian express There is a history of ‘godmen’ in the country who have become centres of controversies over allegations, and sometimes convictions, of sexual abuse or rape cases.

Self-styled godman Asaram Bapu was on Wednesday convicted of raping a 16-year-old school girl from Uttar Pradesh at his Jodhpur ashram in 2013. The girl was reportedly brought to Asaram on the pretext of curing her of “evil spirits”. Asaram has been also been named in another rape case in which two sisters from Gujarat have accused him and his son, Narayan Sai, of sexually assaulting them. There is a history of ‘godmen’ in the country who have become centres of controversies over allegations, and sometimes convictions, of murder, sexual abuse or rape cases. Here is a list of such offenders:

Asaram Bapu

Asaram rape case: What he is accused of Asaram Bapu (Files)

Convicted on Friday in the 2013 case of a minor’s rape, Asaram Bapu, who has often called himself a “bhagwan”, faces rape charges in another case where two sisters from Gujarat have claimed that Asaram and his son Narayan Sai sexually assaulted them on many occassions and confined them illegally between 2001 and 2006 at one of their ashrams.

Follow LIVE Updates | Asaram Bapu verdict: ‘Godman’ gets life term for raping minor

In 2008, Asaram was at the centre of controversy when mutilated bodies of two children were found near his ashram in Motera, Gujarat, on July 3. Asaram was accused of practising ‘black magic’. In July, 2009, CID officials, in their affidavit in the Gujarat High Court, had said that a lie detector test conducted on the sadhaks of the ashram had confirmed that ‘black magic’ was being performed. In November of the same year, the CID (Crime) booked seven sadhaks of the ashram for negligence.

After the December 16, 2012 gangrape case in New Delhi, Asaram had, at one of his sermons, said the victim should have pleaded with her rapists to let her go, should have regarded them as her “bhaiya (brother)”, instead of resisting rape, claiming that this could have saved her life. He had later added, “Galti ek taraf se nahi hoti hai (mistakes do not happen from one side).”

ALSO READ | Asaram Bapu rape case verdict: Violence, witness killings; all that happened in last 5 years

Narayan Sai: 

Asaram, Narayan Sai, witness attacked Narayan Sai (L) with his father Asaram Bapu. (File)

Asaram Bapu’s son Narayan Sai is currently in jail for sexually assaulting a woman at one of Asaram’s ashrams between 2002 and 2005. Sai has also been accused of sexually abusing eight other girls, some of whom were his followers.

ALSO READ | Asaram Bapu found guilty of rape: What next for self-styled godman?

In November 2016, another case was lodged against Sai by a journalist who had alleged he had sexually harrassed her when she had gone to his Karol Bagh ashram in New Delhi to get his interview. The woman had claimed she was advised by her channel head not to lodge a complaint against Sai.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh (File photo)

This is one self-styled godman who had his followers dancing to his tunes, quite literally. Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh not only delivered religious sermons but also acted in films and gave performances on stage.

ALSO READ | Who is Asaram Bapu?

The 50-year-old was convicted in two rape cases on August 25, 2017. One of the victims in question had written to then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002 asking for action to be taken against him, stating that Singh held too much clout for her to go to the police against him.

His conviction was followed by riots across the state of Haryana, particularly in Panchkula and Sirsa, where his followers went berserk. Violence had touched the national capital as well, with Dera Sacha Sauda followers torching a stationary train at the Anand Vihar terminal.

ALSO READ | What is Asaram Bapu case?

Singh had also been implicated in the alleged murders of at least two of his followers, as well as a journalist investigating his practices.

Swami Nithyananda:

Swami Nithyananda (Files)

Nithyananda’s face was plastered all over television screens when video clippings of him cropped up showing him purportedly engaging in sexual acts with a Tamil actress in March 2010. He had claimed then that he was only practising the shavasana, a yoga posture, at the time. He also claimed to be impotent and, therefore, incapable of intercourse.

He was also accused of rape by a former follower. According to reports, the police had found drugs, condoms and other contrabands when his ashrams were raided.

Nithyananda was finally nabbed from Himachal Pradesh’s Solan district on April 21, 2010, and later let off on bail. Two years later, though, he landed again in soup when a US-based woman claimed that Nithyananda had abused her for five years.

Sant Swami Bhimanand:

Shiv Murti Dwivedi alias Ram Murat Dwivedi alias Rajiv Ranjan Dwivedi called himself Ichchadhari Sant Swami Bhimanand Ji Maharaj Chitrakoot waale at Patiala House Court on March 3, 2010. (Express Photo by Prem Nath Pandey/Files)

Shiv Murat Dwivedi alias Ichchadhari Sant Swami Bhimanand Ji Maharaj Chitrakoot Wale allegedly amassed wealth to the tune of crores by allegedly running a sex racket. He is also accused of running a website for flesh trade.

On February 25, 2010, he was held with two air hostesses on account of running prostitution ring for almost a decade in the national capital. On March 9 of the same year, MCOCA charges for flesh trade were slapped on him.

To top it all, he was purportedly seen in a video doing the ‘naagin dance’, seemingly under the influence of alcohol.

Jayendra Saraswathi

asaram bapu, asaram rape case, asaram rape verdict, other cases like asaram, godmen sexual assault cases, indian express Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati (Express Photo by Narendra Vaskar/Files)

Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati, chief priest of the Kanchi Mutt, was an accused in the murder case of one Sankararaman, a manager at the Varadaraja Perumal temple in Kanchipuram, who had been stabbed to death on September 3, 2004 in the Devarajasami temple. He was arrested in connection with the case in November, 2004.

Swami Amrit Chaitnya

Self-styled godman Santosh Madhavan alias Swami Amrit Chaitanya was arrested in 2008 on charges of rape of minor girls as well as cheating an NRI woman. He was convicted by a Kerala court of embezzling money from his followers as well as the rape of four minors.

Swami Premananda 

Premkumar alias Ravi alias Swami Premananda of Premananda Ashram, located in Tiruchirapally, Tamil Nadu, was accused of raping as many as 13 inmates and molesting two followers. He was also accused of killing Ravi, an engineer, in the ashram premises in 1994. He was sentenced to life by the Supreme Court in 2005. He passed away in February 2011 owing to ill health.

 

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