Indian guru sentenced to life for raping Schoolgirl
Published: 04:23 PM, 25 April 2018
Nearly five years after he was arrested, Asaram, a self-styled godman with a following that runs into lakhs, was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a 16-year-old girl whose family brought her to visit his ashram in Jodhpur. The verdict today was delivered inside a Jodhpur jail; authorities decided days ago that taking Asaram to court would risk the 77-year-old`s followers from turning violent on the streets. Four states - Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat - were put on high alert.
Asaram, who has 400 ashrams across the world, raped the young girl in 2013. He is also accused, along with his son, Narayan Sai, of raping two sisters in Surat in Gujarat between 2002 and 2004.
The Supreme Court recently set a five-week deadline for the Surat trial be completed.
Asaram received the maximum punishment under a stringent law meant to protect children from sexual assault -- life imprisonment. He was also charged under two other laws; he got 20 years in jail for each.
Asaram was arrested in Indore in Madhya Pradesh for the Jodhpur case and moved to jail in the desert city. He appealed 12 times for bail but was turned down each time.
"We have got justice. I want to thank everyone who supported us in this fight. Now I hope he will get strict punishment. I also hope the witnesses who were murdered or kidnapped get justice," said the father of the rape survivor.
During the Jodhpur trial, nine witnesses who testified against him were attacked, three of them died.
Asaram, who has a long flowing white beard and used to dress in white robes, was accused of rape, and trafficking under POCSO, a stringent law on sexual crimes against children.
The young girl he raped was left alone with him by her parents because Asaram`s aides said he would "cure" her of evil spirits that had possessed her. She testified later that he threatened to kill her if she revealed what he had done to her.
Of the four people accused along with him, two have been found guilty, two others have been acquitted.
"We will discuss the matter with our legal team and then decide on our future course of action. We have confidence in our judiciary," said Neelam Dubey, a spokesperson for Asaram.
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