Asaram rape verdict today; Security beefed up in Jodhpur

Asaram Bapu

The verdict in the rape case of a 16-year-old girl, involving self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, will be pronounced from inside the central jail in Jodhpur on Wednesday. 

The Rajasthan High Court had mandated that the verdict be pronounced from the jail. "To prevent a Panchkula-type situation where Baba Ram Rahim’s followers went on a rampage following his conviction in a rape case, court instructed us to impose section 144," Amandeep Singh, DCP East, Jodhpur told DH. The section, which prohibits assembling of more than four people at a place, will be in force in Jodhpur till April 30, 

According to jail authorities, a TADA court already functioning inside the jail will be utilised.

"The trial against Asaram was held for some time in the jail courtroom before being shifted to the special court on the orders of the HC. We have made same courtroom operational," Jodhpur Central Jail Superintendent Vikram Singh told DH. "No Asaram follower is allowed to gather outside the jail. Magistrate, court staff, Asaram and co-accused along with the defence and prosecution counsels will be present in the jail courtroom," Singh added. 

Final arguments in the case had been completed by the special court for SC/ST cases on April 7 and the order reserved for pronouncement on April 25.

Genesis

Asaram, 77,  is accused of raping a minor girl at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur. The girl hailed from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh and was a student living in the ashram. Asaram was arrested on August 31, 2013 and since then he is housed in Jodhpur central jail. He sought bail five times but was refused.

He was charged under sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. As per the charge sheet, the cook and warden of the ashram in Chhindwara, where the girl studied, claimed she was possessed by evil spirits and needed to be exorcised. The parents of the girl, long-time devotees of Asaram, took their daughter to the Jodhpur ashram, where Asaram sexually assaulted her.

Asaram, if convicted, can get 10 years in jail. Over the last four years, nine witnesses in two cases have been attacked. The godman faces another rape case in Surat where two girls have lodged a complaint against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape and illegal confinement.

Police have tightened the security of the complainant and Judge Madhusudan  Sarma, who will deliver the verdict. Asaram's ashram, located on Pal Road on the outskirts of the city, has been evacuated.

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Asaram rape verdict today; Security beefed up in Jodhpur

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