Asaram conviction: victory of survivor

The conviction of self-styled god man Asaram Bapu by a Jodhpur court for rape of a 16-year-old girl should help reaffirm the citizens’ faith in the criminal justice system. There have been too many cases of failure to bring powerful and influential people to book for their crimes ranging from sexual assaults to murders to economic crimes. Many offenders escape through the loopholes of the law or by influencing the investigation and the prosecution. Such cases make people lose their faith in the system. Asaram tried everything possible to scuttle the case against him but the system finally prevailed. Obstacles were put at every stage of the case, witnesses were sought to be influenced and intimidated and some were even killed. Great pressure was brought to bear on the girl and her family.

The biggest credit for the victory of justice should go to the survivor and her family who had the courage to file the case against Asaram. They withstood all attempts to buy them off through offers and temptations and to cow them down with threats. Even the judges and journalists were threatened. The survivor’s lawyers succeeded in presenting a strong case, fighting an array of top lawyers engaged by Asaram. The size and significance of the victory become clear only when the contrast between the two sides is realised. Asaram has a Rs 10,000 crore empire spread over hundreds of ashrams and has millions of devoted followers, including top politicians, businessmen and others. The victim is a minor and a school girl with no resources. But truth and justice finally won against many odds because she pursued them with determination and steadfastness. 

There are other cases against Asaram, including cases of sexual crimes, which should also be pursued to the end. He is facing another rape charge from a Surat-based woman who has accused him of raping her in his ashram some years ago. Asaram has been sentenced to imprisonment for life in the Jodhpur case. Severity of punishment is often taken as a measure of justice. That is why there is often a clamour for the death sentence in many cases. This is wrong. Even life sentence may be considered too harsh and vengeful. In Asaram’s case also, a seven-year jail term would serve the ends of justice, and this is not to lessen the seriousness of his crime. His conviction should serve as a warning to many other self-styled god men and babas who violate the laws with impunity and whose crimes are in the same class as Asaram’s.

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Asaram conviction: victory of survivor


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