Asaram Convicted For Raping 16-Year-Old By Gujarat Court
In 2013, a 16-year-old girl from Uttar Pradesh’s Shahajahanpur had accused Asaram of raping her at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur on the night of August 15. He was taken to Jodhpur Central jail the same month from where he filed a number of bail petitions.
The charge-sheet filed against Asaram and four others in the case in November had indicated blackmail in exchange of sexual favours. Asaram was booked under Sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (insult the modesty of any woman) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).
In the time that Asaram was in jail, a number of the key witnesses in the case were attacked or went missing. Asaram’s doctor Amrut Prajapat was shot in Gujarat’s Rajkot in June 2014. His cook Akhil Gupta and another key witness, Kripal Singh, were shot dead in 2015 in Uttar Pradesh.
Mahendra Chawala and Rahul Sachan, two other witnesses, were attacked on the premises of the Jodhpur court in 2015. They survived and went ahead to depose against Asaram.
While still in jail, a Surat-based woman had filed a case of rape and illegal confinement against Asaram and seven others including his son Narayan Sai, wife and daughter, in October 2013. The woman had accused Sai of repeated sexual assault when she was living at Asaram’s ashram in Surat.
The FIR, lodged at Chandkheda police station in Ahmedabad, claimed that Asaram allegedly raped the woman on several occasions from 2001 to 2006 when she was living at his ashram on the outskirts of the city.
In April 2018, Asaram was sentenced to life in prison for raping the 16-year-old girl from Uttar Pradesh. In addition to the life term in prison, he was also charged under two other laws for which he got another 20 years in jail.
Ahead of the pronouncement of the verdict, security had been tightened in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana. The judgement in the case was pronounced inside the Jodhpur Central Jail for fear of possible communal violence.
Last year, Uttar Pradesh police stepped up security for the family of the victim after her father claimed a threat to his life and that of his family members from the supporters of the self-styled ‘godman’.
Asaram has thousands of followers across India with extensive money and muscle power.