What Has Happened So Far
Final arguments in the alleged rape case against Asaram Bapu were completed by the special court for SC/ST cases on 7 April and the court had kept the order reserved to be pronounced on 25 April.
Asaram was arrested on the complaint filed by a teenage girl from Shahajahanpur of Uttar Pradesh. The girl was studying at the godman's ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.
The victim had alleged that Asaram had called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of 15 August 2013.
Asaram was arrested from Indore and brought to Jodhpur on 1 September 2013 and has been kept under judicial custody since 2 September 2013.
A chargesheet against the godman and four other co-accused namely Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash had been filed by the police on 6 November 2013 under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act, Juvenile Justice Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The trial, which had been shifted to the special court for SC/ST cases on 16 December 2016, had begun in the district and sessions court on 19 March 2017.
Asaram has 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.
Tight Security in Jodhpur Ahead of Verdict
Security has been stepped up and prohibitory orders issued in Jodhpur ahead of the trial court verdict on Wednesday.
As per the directions of the Rajasthan High Court, the trial court will deliver its verdict at the Jodhpur Central Jail.
Apprehending a threat to law and order from the followers of Asaram, the police have imposed prohibitory orders.
"We have made all arrangements for the judgement day. Magistrate along with court staff, Asaram and co-accused along with the defence and prosecution counsels will remain present in the courtroom in jail premises”, DIG, Jail, Vikram Singh said.
“We will also seal the jail on the day of judgment and would not allow anyone to get close to jail premises”, Singh said.
Centre Asks Three States to Tighten Security
The Centre, on Tuesday, asked Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana to tighten security and deploy additional forces ahead of the verdict, an official said.
In a communication, the Home Ministry told the three states to beef up security and ensure that no violence takes place after the verdict.
The three states were also told to deploy additional forces in sensitive places, the Home Ministry official said.
Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana have large number of followers of Asaram.
The Home Ministry advisory has been sent in view of the fact that large-scale violence was witnessed in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh after a special court pronounced its verdict in a rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, last year.
Jodhpur Court Rejects Petition Seeking Media Entry in Jail
The Jodhpur court, on Tuesday, dismissed a petition seeking the entry of media persons inside Central Jail of Jodhpur for the coverage of the verdict.
Security Stepped up Around Victim's House
With a special SC/ST court in Jodhpur all set to pronounce its verdict in a rape case against Asaram, the district administration in Shahjahanpur has stepped up security around the house of the victim.
Asaram is accused of raping a teenage girl from the district, who was studying at the self-styled godman's ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.
"The security of the victim's family is continuously being monitored...Two more constables will stand guard outside her house in addition to the five policemen alrady deployed there and a strict vigil is being maintained on all the visitors using CCTV cameras," Superintendent of Police K B Singh told PTI.
Vigil was also being kept on Asaram's ashram at Rudrapur in Uttar Pradesh, he said.
In Touch With Concerned States: Delhi Police CPRO
The Delhi Police has also been instructed to stay alert and in touch with the concerned states for additional deployment if required.
Speaking to ANI, the Delhi Police CPRO Deepender Pathak said:
"Adequate forces will immediately be deployed if required. All officers will be present in their areas."
'I Request Everyone To Keep Faith in Judiciary': Neelam Dubey
Neelam Dubey, the spokesperson of the Asaram Trust, addressed the media ahead of the verdict, asking Asaram’s followers to keep “faith in the judiciary”. She further asked the media to stay away from the ashrams.
Referring to a video message that Asaram Bapu had relayed to his followers in 2013 after his arrest, Dubey said:
"Bapu had also appealed to his devotees to not take law into their hands, and instead keep faith in the judiciary in 2013. He has reiterated the same message from the jail. He has also asked his followers to not come to Jodhpur and instead stay where they are and keep faith in justice."
'Won't Tolerate Any Nonsense': Jodhpur East (DCP) Amandeep Singh
Ahead of the verdict, Deputy Commissioner of Police Jodhpur (East) Amandeep Singh Kapoor asserted that all necessary measures have been taken to ensure no untoward instances of violence arise after the verdict is announced.
"We will not tolerant any kind of nonsense. We have taken all precautionary measures. We are confident that we will be able to handle law and order."
The security personnel also carried out a flag-march in the city.
Full Security Provided to Rape Survivor and Family
KB Singh, the CO of Shahjahanpur said the survivor and her family had been provided proper security and safety ahead of the verdict.
'Proceedings Are Expected to Begin Around 8-8:30 am on Wednesday': Jodhpur Jail DIG
Speaking to the media ahead of the Asaram rape case verdict on Wednesday, Vikram Singh, DIG, Jodhpur jail, said:
"The case will be heard in the jail court itself. There will be tight security both outside and inside the jail. The proceedings are expected to begin around 8-8:30 am." - Vikram Singh, DIG, Jodhpur Jail
Judge to Pronounce Verdict Shortly
The special judge Madhusudan Sharma reached Jodhpur Central Jail, and the verdict is expected to be pronounced at 10:00 AM.
Asaram Tells His Followers to Not Gather At a Location
Asaram Bapu’s Public Relations Officer, Neelam Dubey, on Wedneday, 25 April said that the ‘godman’ has told his followers to stick to their routine and not to gather at one location. Dubey added that those who do not follow Asaram’s instructions on this, were not his “true followers”.
Asaram Followers Offer Prayers
Ahead of the verdict in the rape case, the followers of Asaram Bapu conducted a prayer meet in Varanasi, and Madhya Pradesh.
Police Arrest Six Supporters
The Rajasthan police reportedly arrested six supporters of Asaram Bapu, ahead of the verdict in the rape case.
Security Tightened Ahead of Asaram Bapu Verdict
Security tightened outside Jodhpur Central Jail, ahead of the verdict in the Asaram Bapu rape case.
Confident that Asaram Will be Convicted: Key Witness
Key witness in the Asaram Bapu rape case, Mahendra Chawla, said that he was confident that the godman will be convicted. He appealed for extra security cover, citing that witnesses were constantly under threat.
"I trust the judicary and am confident that Asaram will be convicted. I request judiciary that such rapists should be hanged. Though I have security, I request Centre for additional security, my life like other witnesses is constantly under threat." - Mahendra Chawla, Key Witness
Rape Case Verdict: Watch | The Quint's Report From Ground Zero
Rape Case Verdict | Watch: Asaram Follower Detained Ahead of Verdict
A follower of Asaram, who came to the Jodhpur Central jail with a garland, was detained by the police.
Another follower made his way to Jodhpur from Mumbai,wanting a ‘darshan’ of Asaram.
We Have Got Justice: Father of Rape Survivor
After the verdict, the father of the Shahjahanpur rape survivor said, "Asaram is convicted, 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."
'Godman' Asaram Convicted of Raping a Minor
A Jodhpur trial court convicted self-styled godman Asaram on Wednesday, 25 April, of raping a 16-year-old on the night of 15 August 2013. He has been convicted under IPC Section 376 and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).
Of the four other accused, Shiva and Prakash have been acquitted, while Sharad and Shilpi have reportedly been held guilty.
Have Faith in Judiciary: Asaram's PRO
Asaram’s spokesperson Neelam Dubey said that they will decide on the future course of action and that they still have faith in the judiciary.
Asaram's Counsel to Ask for Leniency in Sentencing
After being pronounced guilty of raping a 16-year-old minor, Asaram’s Counsel will reportedly ask for leniency in sentencing. They are expected to cite his old age and failing health for leniency.
Survivor Not a Minor: Asaram's Lawyer
Asaram's lawyer Vikas Pahwa claimed that the survivor was not a minor, and she has made “contradictory” statements in the court.
Asaram Verdict A Lesson For Others: NCPCR
National Commission For Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)’s Yashwant Jain said that the verdict is a lesson for people who think they can get away with committing sexual offences against children.
He appreciated the survivor and her family for fighting against the culprits.
Cong Takes a Dig At Modi Post Verdict
Following Asaram’s conviction in the rape case, the Congress tweeted an old video of Prime Minister Narendra Modi sharing a stage with the godman. The party tweeted, “A man is known by the company he keeps”.
Asaram Gets Life Imprisonment in 2013 Rape Case
Godman Asaram, convicted in a 2013 rape case by a Jodhpur trial court, has been sentenced to life imprisonment.
Shilpi and Sharad, the two others who were convicted in the case, have been sentenced to 20 years each in jail.
Watch: The Quint's Coverage From Ground Zero
Suspense ends! Life imprisonment for ‘godman’ Asaram after he was held guilty of raping a minor in August 2013 in the pretext of ‘curing her of evil’ #AsaramConvicted #AsaramCaseVerdict @TheQuint pic.twitter.com/6T0CLJVa1x— Aishwarya S Iyer (@iyersaishwarya) April 25, 2018
'Hard Work Has Paid Off': Jodhpur DCP Amandeep Kapoor
The DCP of Jodhpur, Amandeep Kapoor lauded the decision, stating that he was glad with the way the verdict had turned out.
"I can say that hard work from everyone has finally paid off. We all are really happy with this decision. I need media’s support to get the correct version out there to the supporters of Asaram."
Fourth Accused Let Off
Shiva, one among the four accused along with Asaram in the chargesheet was let off.
Politicos, Activists Hail Verdict
Politicians and activists welcomed the Jodhpur court's verdict awarding self-styled godman Asaram life sentence for raping a teenage girl in his ashram five years ago and also hailed the resilience of the victim and her father for pursuing the case.
"I welcome the judgement. In this case the witnesses were attacked, one was killed. The victim and her father were threatened, they were forced to leave their home. They were displaced. But today their fight for justice has been vindicated. What is worse is that this godman used the 'bhakti' of these followers to abuse their believes," said CPI (M) Politburo member Brinda Karat.
"The time has come when people should be able to differentiate between the actual saints and the frauds, as this creates a bad image of the country in the international arena," Congress leader Ashok Gehlot said.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights said despite the child being a minor, the new ordinance that allows courts to invoke the death penalty in such cases will not be applicable in this case.
"We welcome this judgement, more so because the perpetrator of this crime is a very powerful person who held a position of trust, the devotees go to these godmen when they are in trouble and the guru must protect them and not sexually assault them. The ordinance will have a prospective effect not a retrospective effect," said NCPCR Chairperson Stuti Kacker.
Landmarks Named After Asaram to Be Richristened, MP CM Assures Bhopal
Following the conviction of Asaram in a rape case, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the places named after the controversial godman would be rechristened.
Nobody is above the law, Chouhan said and promised "appropriate action" on an activist's demand that two places in Bhopal named after 77-year-old Asaram be renamed.
"No one is above the Constitution, the law, and the public sentiments. It is a country where the name of Aurangzeb Road has also been changed. Soon, we will take appropriate action on this matter too," Chouhan said.
Bhopal has two places named after Asaram -- a road crossing and a bus stand, both located near the godman's ashram near the Raja Bhoj Airport on the city outskirts.
Activist Rachna Dhingra, who works for the survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster, made the demand in a video on social media.
"I am asking the chief Minister who claims to be a big proponent and protector of girls' rights that the names of this crossing and bus stand be changed," she said.
Another activist, Akshay Hunka, tagged the chief minister in his tweet and asked to spell out the government's stand on Dhingra's demand.
Replying to it, Chouhan assured to take appropriate action
"Life Imprisonment Verdict is a Huge Victory": Victim's Lawyer
The victim’s lawyer Poonam Chand Solanki hailed the court’s verdict calling it a “big step”.
A Jodhpur trial court sentenced self-styled godman Asaram to life imprisonment on Wednesday, 25 April, in a 2013 rape case involving a 16-year-old girl. He was convicted under IPC Section 376 and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).
- Two others sentenced to 20 years each in jail
- Security heightened in Rajasthan & neighbouring states
LIVE: #AsaramConvicted Rape Culture and the Cults of The Godmen #RapistAsaram #RapistRamRahim With Hartosh Singh Bal and Anurag TripathiPosted by The Quint on Tuesday, April 24, 2018
. Read more on India by The Quint.Chinese Air Force’s Presence has Increased in Tibet: BS DhanoaAsaram Convicted In 2013 Rape Case, Gets Life Imprisonment . Read more on India by The Quint.