Asaram convicted of rape, section 144 imposed

Godman Asaram Bapu was pronounced guilty of rape of a teenager in 2013 by the Jodhpur SC/ST special court today. According to reports, the verdict was announced inside a courtroom in the Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram is currently lodged.

Asaram was convicted along with two other accused in the case. Two of the accused were acquitted by the court. Sanchita alias Shilpi and Sharat Chandra were found guilty where two accused named Prakash and Shiva were acquitted by the Jodhpur Special Court. All others except Asaram were out on bail.

The special court had reportedly heard the final arguments on April 7th and reserved verdict for April 25. Judge Madhusudan Sharma pronounced the verdict in a courtroom located in the jail premises at around 10.40 AM today. Asaram has been lodged there for 56 months since his arrest in September 2013. The state government had reportedly appealed in the High Court for the verdict to be pronounced inside the jail premises to avoid any law and order situation like in Panchkula, Haryana, where supporters of Gurmeet Ram Rahim had spread violence after his conviction.

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According to reports, section 144 has been imposed on Jodhpur and police have been kept on alert to face any breach of law and order by Asaram’s supporters. Asaram has over 400 ashrams all over the country.

Asaram, 77, was accused of rape of a 16-year-old girl at his ashram in Manai village in Jodhpur. The girl, who hails from Shahjahanpur in UP had accused that Asaram had called her to his premises and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013. Asaram was arrested on September 1, 2013. He was charged under the POCSO Act and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Over the years, Asaram had moved 12 bail petitions which were all rejected. 6 petitions were rejected by the Jodhpur Trial Court, 3 by the Rajasthan High Court and 3 by the Supreme Court.

Asaram is also accused on other rape charges against him filed by two sisters in Gujrat separately. His son Narayan Sai is also accused of rape and illegal confinement in the cases. Over the years, many witnesses and key persons related to Asaram’s case have been reportedly attacked and some have gone missing.

According to reports, apart from Jodhpur city, even the house of the victim girl has been converted into a fortress by armed guards, women police officers and several intelligence officers to prevent any attempts of violence and intimidation by Asaram’s followers.

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