November 7, 2013 3:00:21 pm
The Jodhpur police on Wednesday charged self-styled godman Asaram Bapu with wrongful confinement and rape of a 16-year-old girl,more than two months after he was arrested in the sexual assault case.
The 1,011-page charge sheet,comprising 121 documents and statements of 58 witnesses,was filed in the District and Sessions Court in the presence of Asaram and four co-accused — Shilpi,Shiva,Prakash and Sharad Chandra.
District and Sessions judge Manoj Kumar Vyas extended their judicial custody till November 16 when the arguments on the charges will begin.
Asaram was arrested by the Jodhpur police from his ashram in Indore on August 31 night after the parents of the girl,an inmate of Chhindwara Gurukul in Madhya Pradesh,filed a complaint of rape against him.
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The four co-accused were taken into custody over the next few weeks.
The charges against Asaram and other accused include sections 342 (wrongful confinement),376(2)(f) (rape of minor girl),376 D (rape),354 A (outraging a woman’s modesty),506 (criminal intimidation) and 109 (abetment to an offence) of the IPC,said prosecution counsel Pradhuyman Singh.
They have also been charged under various sections of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act,he said.
The charges carry a minimum jail term of 10 years and a maximum of up to life imprisonment,according to the counsel of the minor girl,Manish Vyas.
Police moved an application in the court seeking its permission to add any further evidence related to the case during course of the trial.
Emerging out of the court,the self-proclaimed godman told reporters that he had been framed and the entire charge sheet was fabricated.
According to investigators,Asaram sexually assaulted the girl in his Manai Ashram,about 30 kms from Jodhpur.
Shilpi,the warden at the Chhindwara Gurukul in Madhya Pradesh where the girl was a student,allegedly convinced the girl’s parents to send her to Asaram to “ward off evil souls”,which she had termed the reason behind the girl’s illness.
Shiva was the mediator between Shilpi and Asaram and was allegedly present in the Manai Ashram with him on the night when the girl was assaulted,an investigator had said.
In-charge of hostel of Chhindwara Gurukul Sharad Chandra and cook Prakash,who too have been charged in the case,surrendered before the court on September 20.
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