The prisons department has set up a special court in Jodhpur Central jail for pronouncing judgment in a five-year-old child sexual harassment case lodged against self-proclaimed godman Asaram Bapu and his four followers. The court will give its verdict in the case under heavy security arrangements on April 25.
The special court in Jodhpur Central Jail will see the presence of the judge and his staff on the day of the verdict. The court had been set up for hearings in the terrorism related cases. The same court had been used for hearings through video conferencing in terrorism cases.
“Heavy security arrangements have been made inside and outside the court premises to thwart any attempt to disrupt law and order situation,” said a senior prisons department officer.
Apart from Asaram Bapu, the special SC/ST cases court will give its verdict against his four followers - Shiva alias Sawaram, Prakash Diwedi, Shilp alias Sanchita Gupta and Sharad Chandara.
Jodhpur police commissioner Ashok Rathore on Sunday took a meeting of senior officials to take stock of the security arrangements being made in Jodhpur ahead of the verdict.
Police fear that Asaram’s supporters may gather in Jodhpur and disrupt law and order situation in case the verdict goes against the self-styled godman. The majority of Asaram Bapu’s supporters are in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The police are also keeping an eye on the social media channels to prevent spread of rumors.
Jodhpur police recently imposed section 144 of CrPC in Jodhpur, banning gathering of five or more people in Jodhpur.
The police had arrested Asaram Bapu on August 31, 2013 and he has been lodged in Jodhpur central jail since then.
The 76-year-old religious preacher has been accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old schoolgirl who studied at Asaram’s ashram in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhindwara and stayed in a girls’ hostel there.
The girl had made a complaint at a police station in Delhi on August 20, 2013 and the spiritual leader has since then denied the allegation.
First published: April 23, 2018