Asaram Bapu rape case: A Jodhpur court is all set to pronounce its verdict in a 2012 rape case against self-styled godman Asaram Bapu. Asaram Bapu, who has been in jail since August 31, 2013, was charged under relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
In August 2013, Delhi police filed a case against Asaram Bapu on charges of raping a 16-year old girl in his Jodhpur Ashram. Reportedly, she was brought to Asaram on the pretext of curing her “evil spirits”. Asaram Bapu initially laughed off the incident in one of his satsangs. Asaram Bapu also tried to resist his arrest citing ill health and death of a relative. Finally, he was arrested on August 31, 2013. Also Read: Centre asks three states to tighten security
Charges were framed under sections 342 (for wrongful confinement), 354A (sexual harassment), 370(4) (trafficking), 376(2)f (rape on a woman when she is under twelve years of age), 506 (criminal intimidation), 509/34 and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy).
In March 2016, an alleged henchman of Asaram — Kartik Haldar– was arrested from Raipur in Chhattisgarh. He was suspected to have shot dead three key witnesses in rape cases filed against the religious leader. Haldar was arrested by Anti-Terrorism Squad of Gujarat. Also Read: Jodhpur turns into fortress, section 144 imposed
The Supreme Court had also rejected several of Asaram’s bail pleas. In January 2018, the court had fined him Rs 1 lakh for submitting false medical evidence in his bail petition. Earlier, the apex court had refused to grant bail to Asaram on various grounds in the two sexual assault cases lodged in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Meanwhile, anxiety lingers at another end — miles away from where Asaram is lodged — in Shahjahanpur, a town in Uttar Pradesh where the security has been tightened outside the victim’s house, days before the judgment. Jodhpur police also said that they will impose Section 144 till April 30, in a bid to prevent any untoward incident before the self-styled godman Asaram Bapu’s rape case verdict on April 25.
Violence and arson after the recent verdict in the another self-styled godman Ram Rahim case serve as a timely reminder of how a frenzied crowd of followers could go berserk and take the law into their own hands. April 25 has kept the police in Jodhpur and Shahjahanpur on their toes, as past incidents bear witness to the fact that how religion and superstition make people blind and resort to unlawful acts.
The father of the victim said that he had complete faith in the judiciary and was confident that justice would be done. If convicted, Asaram faces a maximum sentence of 10 years.
(With inputs from PTI)