Jodhpur, Apr 25: Asumal Sirumalani, known as Asaram Bapu, was convicted by the Jodhpur Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Court on Wednesday in a rape case. Asaram was found guilty under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. He has been convicted of raping a minor girl in Manai village near Jodhpur on August 15, 2013. Also Read - Asaram Bapu Rushed to Jodhpur Hospital After Health Deteriorates, Complained of Chest Pain & Restlessness

Asaram Bapu was born in April 1941 in the Sindh province of present-day Pakistan. Before reinventing himself as a godman, Asaram was a ‘tongawala’ and used to carry pilgrims from Ajmer railway station to Dargah Sharif. After studying till class 3 in a Gujarat school, he abandoned his family and joined an ashram in Bharuch. He received the name of ‘Asaram Bapu’ from a guru. Also Read - Fraudsters Offer to Sell Horse Owned by Salman Khan, Dupe Jodhpur Woman of Rs 12 Lakh!

Asaram built his first ashram on the banks of Sabarmati river in Gujarat’s Motera town in 1972. An owner of assets worth Rs 2,300 crore, Asaram now has around 400 ashrams across India. According to his website, he has millions of followers which include the likes of former Prime Minister and BJP patriarch Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal among others. Also Read - SpiceJet to Launch 20 New Domestic Flights, 16 to Connect Jaipur With Other Cities

Asaram caught unwanted national attention when he made a controversial remark in the Delhi rape case, saying, “Galati Ek Taraf Se Nahin Hoti Hai”. However, Asaram and his Motera ashram have been in the eye of a storm since July 2008. Two ten-year-old cousins, Abhishek and Dipesh Vaghela had gone missing from the ashram. Their bodies were later found from a dried-up riverbed close to the ashram.

The deaths served to lend credence to the allegations of tantric practices by Asaram and his followers. The death of the boys is not the only allegation of wrongdoing against Asaram and his ashram. The self-styled godman also faces charges of land grabbing and sexual assault. Besides Jodhpur ashram rape case, Asaram is also facing a trial in Gujarat for raping two Surat-based sisters. His son, Narayan Sai, is also an accused in the case.