Jaipur: A Jodhpur court sentenced Asaram Bapu to life imprisonment in a five-year-old rape case lodged against the self-proclaimed godman. His two followers – Shilpi and Sharatchandra were each sentenced 20 years in prison. Two other followers – Shiva and Prakash - were held not guilty.
The father of the victim said that he had been waiting for this moment for the past five years.
“My daughter got justice today. We are still receiving threats, but I am not afraid anymore. Even if I am murdered, I will leave this world with a sense of proud. I was able to bring the culprits to book despite their influence and reach in the power corridors. The judgement will be an eye-opener for those who consider themselves above the law and instill fear among rapists,” the father whose eyes welled after the judgement told media persons.
He thanked the police, media and lawyers for their support.
When judge Madhusudan Sharma convicted Asaram in the morning, the self-styled godman started laughing and chanting ‘Hariom’, but when the judge pronounced the quantum of sentence, he started crying and pleading for mercy saying that he was old.
Later when he was being taken away by the police, his mood again changed. Asaram said, “I will be happy in the jail”. Asaram – prisoner number – 130 – will now be lodged Ward Number – 2 of Barrack -1 in Jodhpur Central Jail.
Judge Madhusudan Sharma said that Asaram committed a crime not just against the victim, but also the society at large because he betrayed the people’s faith and tarnished the image of saints.
“If he was not given a stringent and proper punishment, it would mean that the court failed to fulfil its duties,” the judge, a native of Jaipur, said.
Asaram was convicted under sections 370(4), 342, 376 (2) and 376(D) of IPC, the most stringent sections of the law for wrongful confinement, misuse of power and one or more persons constituting a group. Under section 376 (D), the maximum punishment is life imprisonment, which may extend to imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life.
An FIR was registered against Asaram Bapu and his four followers under various section of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and IPC in 2013. Nearly 2000 policemen were deputed in Jodhpur, particularly near the Jodhpur Central Jail to maintain law and order.
Rape case at a glance
August 19, 2013: The family members of a girl, a resident of Shanhjanhapur in UP, who was 16-year-old at that time alleged that Asaram sexually assaulted the girl. The family members took the girl to New Delhi where Asaram was organizing a religious function.
August 20: When they couldn’t see Asaram, they registered an FIR under POSCO with Kamala Market police station in New Delhi.
August 21, 2013: Since the crime took place in the jurisdiction of Jodhpur police, the FIR was forwarded to Jodhpur. The case was registered with Women Police Station in Jodhpur. A team led by then DCP Ajaypal Lamba inspected the spot.
August 31, 2013: Asaram Bapu was arrested from his Indore ashram around 12.55am. He was brought to Jodhpur.
November,2013: The police also arrested his four followers including Shiva alias Sevaram, Prakash Diwedi, Shilpi alias Sanchtia Gupta and Sharad Chandra alias Sharatchandra
First published: April 25, 2018