Self-styled godman Asaram sentenced to life

A Jodhpur court on Wednesday awarded life sentence to self-styled godman Asaram after holding him guilty of raping a teenage girl in his ashram five years ago. The special court for SC/ST cases convicted two other accused, Shilpi and Sharad, and acquitted two, Prakash and Shiva.

"The court has awarded life imprisonment to Asaram while the two other convicts have been each sentenced to 20 years in jail," a senior police official said.

The verdict was delivered by Special Judge Madhusudhan Sharma in a makeshift court at the Jodhpur Central Jail as per the orders of the Rajasthan High Court

Asaram was charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (Pocso), Juvenile Justice Act, Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and relevant Sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Section 144 has been imposed in Jodhpur till April 30, preventing assembly of more than four people at a time. Security has been heightened across the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana where Asaram has a huge following. 

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs had asked the three states to deploy additional forces in sensitive areas and ensure law and order is maintained following the verdict.

Following the verdict, the victim's father told the media, "Asaram is convicted, we have got justice. I want to thank everyone who supported us in this fight. Now I hope he will get strict punishment. I also hope the witnesses who were murdered or kidnapped get justice". 

Asaram, 77,  was accused of raping a minor girl at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur. The girl is from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh and was a student living in the ashram close to Jodhpur. Asaram was arrested on August 31, 2013, and since then he has been housed in Jodhpur Central Jail. 

According to the charge sheet, the cook and warden of the ashram in Chhindwara, where the girl was studying, claimed she was possessed by evil spirits and had to be exorcised. 

The girl's parents, who were long-time devotees of Asaram, took their daughter to the Jodhpur ashram, where Asaram sexually assaulted her.

Nine witnesses have been attacked over the last five years since the trial began against Asaram. 

But there is more trouble in the offing for Asaram as two girls have lodged a complaint against him and his son Narayan Sai in Surat, accusing them of rape and illegal confinement.

 

See also: Asaram case: Timeline of events

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Self-styled godman Asaram sentenced to life

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