Self Styled Godman Asaram Bapu Convicted By Jodhpur Court In Sexual Assault Case
Self Styled godmen, Asaram Bapu and all the other four accused were convicted by a Jodhpur Court today. Asaram was arrested in 2013 after a 16-year-old girl from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh had alleged that she was sexually assaulted by him at his ashram situated on the outskirts of Jodhpur.
“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”, Father of the victim told said.
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: Father of Shahjahanpur victim #AsaramCaseVerdict pic.twitter.com/sUJ3atJJJY
— ANI (@ANI) April 25, 2018
Neelam Dubey, Asaram spokesperson on the conviction said that they will discuss future course of action with their legal team.
We will discuss with our legal team and then decide our future course of action. We have confidence in our judiciary: Neelam Dubey,Asaram spokesperson on Asaram convicted pic.twitter.com/3LIcyuSAmU
— ANI (@ANI) April 25, 2018
Asaram was facing trial in two sexual assault cases: one in Rajasthan and the other in Gujarat. The verdict was announced from the Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram was lodged.
Ahead of the verdict, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana, three states which have a large number of followers of Asaram, were asked to tighten their security measures by the Centre.
Judge Madhusudan Sharma who pronounced the verdict on this case has been provided with Z+ security.
Asaram is facing charges under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The maximum he could face now would be of life imprisonment on the charges of trafficking, rape and sexual crimes against children.
Apart from the 16-year-old girl who alleged sexual assault by Asaram, two sisters from Gujarat lodged separate complaints against him and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape and illegal confinement.
Since the trial began four years ago, nine witnesses in these two cases have been attacked out of which two witnesses have died.
The “godman” in these five years moved 12 bail applications, however, six were rejected by the trial court, three by Rajasthan High Court and three by the Supreme Court.
The case which led to arrest of the “godman”
In her complaint on August 20 at a Delhi police station, the 16-year-old had accused the Asaram of sexual assault and alleged that she was asked to perform oral sex and was touched inappropriately. According to her, her parents took her to the ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur, on August 15, 2013, after she fainted at school, they were told that she needed to be left alone and that she was possessed by evil spirits and that she can be cured at the ashram.
In the charge sheet filed in November 2013, against Asaram and the co-accused, it was also alleged that he had videotaped his sexual acts with several women to blackmail them for further sexual favours. He was booked under Sections 342, 376, 506 and 509 of the IPC, and Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). The charges under sections 23 and 26 of the Juvenile Justice Act was later dropped.
Asarams supporters had unleashed hell and attacked several key witnesses in the case, following the arrest and trial of the god man. Witnesses including Asaram’s aide, Amrut Prajapati, Akhil Gupta who worked as a cook at the ashram, Mahender Chawla, a key witness and his son, Narayan Sai, Kripal Singh, who has been listed as witness Number 17 were all murdered in the following five years. Rahul Sachan, a witness in the rape case, was stabbed at the Jodhpur court premises and went missing from Kaiserbagh bus stand in Lucknow.
Although the victim’s family had been under tremendous pressure over the last few years, when witness after witness who was ready for testimony against Asaram, were attacked, they have been steadfast in their pursuit of justice. The girl, just 16 yrs old at the time, reportedly sat through 164 sessions and sticking to her statement and not buckling under pressure. “They even tried to buy us out. When we did not relent, they threatened us. We got security, but it was lax in the previous regime, and that is why one of the crucial witnesses in the case was killed,” her father said to NDTV.