Jodhpur, Apr 25: Asaram has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Jodhpur Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Court in the 2013 rape case. Asaram was convicted by the court on Wednesday amid tight security inside the Jodhpur Central Jail. According to reports, Asaram broke down after hearing the sentence. Two other co-accused – Shipi and Sharatchandra – in the case were also convicted and have been sentenced to 20 years in jail each. Two remaining co-accused – Prakash and Shiva – were acquitted. The verdict was delivered inside the Jodhpur Central Jail by Judge Madhusudhan Sharma due to security concerns. Asaram’s lawyer said that they will appeal in the Rajasthan High Court against the verdict. (Live updates on Asaram verdict coverage)Also Read - Section 144 Imposed in Rajasthan's Bharatpur After Clashes, Heavy Police Force Deployed
Asaram has been convicted under Sections 370 (4), 342, 506, 376 (2) (F) and 376 (D) amid others of the Indian Penal Code. He has also been fined Rs 1 lakh. The judge prepared a 453-page judgment in the case.”I can say that hard work from everyone has finally paid off. We all are really happy with this decision. I need media’s support to get the correct version out there to the supporters of Asaram,” said Jodhpur DCP Amandeep Kapoor after the verdict. Also Read - Section 144 Imposed In This District of Uttar Pradesh Amid Uptick in Covid Cases
Asaram’s involvement was probed in two separate cases – one from Rajasthan and the other from Gujarat. In Rajasthan, a teenage girl from Shahajahanpur of Uttar Pradesh had accused Asaram of raping her at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur on the night of August 15, 2013. The survivor in the case stuck to her testimony for years despite all security threats that she reportedly faced. (Also Read: Who is Asaram: From tongawala, to godman and now rape convict) Also Read - Section 144 Imposed in Aurangabad Till May 9. Full List of Restrictions
Soon after the verdict, the rape survivor’s father 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.” On the other hand, Asaram’s spokesperson Neelam Dubey said that they will approach the higher court and are confident that “bapuji will be proven innocent and truth will come out.”
Tight security in Rajasthan
The Rajasthan High Court had on April 17 ordered the trial court to deliver its verdict inside the jail premises. The bench comprising Justice Gopal K.Vyas and Justice Ram Chandra Singh Jhala had also issued guidelines to the Commissioner to ensure law and order in the city on the verdict day. The final arguments in the Asaram Bapu rape case were completed on April 7, 2018.
Security in Rajasthan was tightened in view of the verdict against Asaram. Other states — Gujarat and Haryana — have also been asked to step up their security to prevent any untoward incident and deploy additional forces to the sensitive areas, a Home Ministry official said. An advisory was issued by the Asaram ashram authorities to stay calm whatever the verdict is.