The Surat sessions court, which has sentenced self-styled godman Narayan Sai for life in a rape case of his “devotee”, has observed that the convict could not be let off with weak punishment because people saw him as a “role model”.
“If such type of convict (Sai) is been (sic) given weak punishment, it might lead and motivate his followers (on the same path). When a person is seated on such a high position, where people in the society see him… as their role model and follow him, and such a religious leader doing such type of acts should not be tolerated,” the 594-page order pronounced by Additional Sessions Judge P S Gadhvi on April 30, states.
Taking a note of how she was trapped, the court order states, “Sai would identify himself as (an) avatar of Lord Krishna… During prasad distribution ceremony, Sai would give a cue to the loyal devotees and servants at Jehangirpura (ashram in Surat) to tell the ‘chosen one’ that she was accepted as Gopi (consort)… before taking her into a special room…”
The rape case was lodged by a former female devotee with Surat police in 2013. The court has also directed Sai to pay the victim a compensation of Rs 5 lakh.
His two other female devotees — Ganga alias Dharmishta Mishra and her sister Jamna alias Bhavna Pate — besides Hanuman alias Kaushal Thakur were sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment while, Ramesh Malhotra was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.
In her statements to the police, which had been taken on record in the court, the victim had mentioned that she feared the political, financial and muscle power of Sai and his father Asaram Bapu. So she could not muster courage to approach the Surat police till a teenager girl lodged a complaint of rape against Asaram.
The Surat victim and her elder sister have been raped by Sai and Asaram respectively.
Sai’s lawyer B M Gupta said they will approach the Gujarat High Court.