Asaram rape case: Happy to get justice, says victim's father

Marsha Scott
April 26, 2018

Asaram Bapu, a self-proclaimed godman and spiritual guru, was sentenced by an Indian court Wednesday to life in prison for raping a minor.

In Rajasthan's Jodhpur, the white two-storey cottage where the 16-year-old girl was raped by Asaram wore a similarly deserted look.

The 77-year-old, known to his followers as Asaram Bapu or simply Bapuji (Bapu means father in Hindi), has 230 ashrams across India, the United Kingdom, the US, Kenya, Uganda, and Canada.

Asaram was arrested in September 2013 and lodged in Jodhpur jail.

Police in the nearby states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat, where Bapu has a large following, were placed on high alert in anticipation of trouble, officials said.

"What kind of protest?"

Asaram unsuccessfully moved 12 bail applications, of which six were rejected by the trial court, three by the Rajasthan High Court and three by the Supreme Court.

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Two sexual assault cases were filed against Asaram in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

With the help of local politicians and believers, Harpalani soon oversaw a vast empire of about 400 ashrams and businesses selling various herbal products and publishing dozens of books of his teachings.

Additional sessions judge Madhusudan Sharma sentenced the trio after convicting them of various offences under the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act in a proceeding held in a specially convened court on the Jodhpur central jail premises. The Union Home Ministry had sent an advisory fearing a repeat of the violence in Punjab and Haryana that followed the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in August a year ago, when several people were killed. His son, Narayan Sai, is also an accused in the case.

The police had also made elaborate arrangements to check influx of Asaram's supporters to the city through trains or by road. Shilpi, a warden there, had suggested that she meet the godman in Jodhpur.

The 77-year-old self-styled godman was arrested in connection with the case in 2013 and has been in jail ever since.

In her testimony, recorded a few days after she left the ashram, the survivor told the police that Sirumalani had warned her that her family would be in grave danger if she told them what happened.

Just over a week after her death, Asaram landed himself in controversy when he accused Singh of being partially responsible for the assault. Adding that "It takes two sides to make a mistake". There were almost 39,000 alleged attacks in 2016, an increase of 12% on the previous year.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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