- Self-styled godman Asaram has been convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl in 2013. The judgment was pronounced by a trial court in Jodhpur. The self-styled godman is set to spend life in prison.
- Asaram was arrested in 2013 and has been in jail since
- The other two people -- Shilpi and Sharad -- from his ashram involved in the crime have been sentenced to 20 years in jail.
- Two others were acquitted.
As it happened
Life imprisonment for Asaram
- The 77-year-old is said to have broken down on hearing the sentence
- Asaram's legal team has said that they will appeal the verdict at the high court
A new low for Congress
- The Congress has posted a tweet online, with an old picture of PM Narendra Modi and Asaram.
- The post has kicked up a storm on Twitter
- Several Twitter users, including actor Farhan Akhtar, have lashed out at Congress for politicizing rape.
So, Asaram is a child rapist. And he has been found guilty. Good.— Farhan Akhtar (@FarOutAkhtar) April 25, 2018
But can people please stop sharing images of him with PM Modi. Patronising him before he was exposed to be a pervert is no crime.
Let’s be fair and give him the benefit of doubt that he, like us, did not know.
- Prosecution and defense counsels conclude arguments. The judge is said to be signing the order
Sentence post lunch
- Due to security concerns, the judgment copy and the quantum of the sentence will be revealed only after the judge reaches his high court chambers.
- Asaram's counsel is pleading for a lenient sentence citing his old age.
- "We are all satisfied with the judgment. We see the quantum coming today itself," Rajasthan DGP OP Gehlotra said. "The ground reality remains the same that he is and will continue to be in jail. There are no reports of anyone breaking law and order, everything is under control."
Asaram's ashram in Bhopal
Asaram's shady past
- Asaram is married to Laxmi Devi and the couple has two children Narayan Sai and Bharti Devi. Sai and Asaram were accused of sexually assaulting two sisters in Gujarat.
- Several people have also accused Asaram of murder after bodies of two cousins -- Dipesh and Abhishek Vaghela -- were found near his ashram. They were both students of Asaram's gurukul
- He was also accused of land grabbing in Surat and Ahmedabad and is said to have build ashrams on this land.
Asaram's aides will now appeal the judgment at the Rajasthan High Court
- Self-styled godman Asaram has been convicted in the 2013 case when he raped a 16-year-old girl.
- Asaram was being tried for IPC 342 (Wrongful confinement), IPC 376(2)(F) (Rape of a minor girl), IPC 376 D (Rape), IPC 354 A (Outraging the modesty of a woman), IPC 506 (Criminal intimidation) and IPC 109 (Abetment to an offence).
- The four other people involved in the crime have also been convicted
- Asaram convicted under POCSO and Juvenile Justice Act.
Victim's family demands maximum punishment
- The victim's father has welcomed the judgement and told ANI: "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."
Asaram's son Narayan Sai produced in Surat court
- Sai was produced in a court in Surat in a case where two sisters had accused him of sexual assault and illegal confinement
Asaram's followers disappointed
- His followers are disappointed and the ashram has said that Asaram's legal team will be consulted.
- "We will discuss with our legal team and then decide our future course of action. We have confidence in our judiciary: Neelam Dubey, Asaram's spokesperson, said.
- Asaram reportedly delayed the proceedings. He is said to have been praying and hence reached the hearing venue about 15 minutes late
- While the victim's lawyers hopes for stringent punishment, the defense consel believes Asaram will be acquitted.
- About 29 people are inside the jail and have been told to deposit thier belongings and mobile phones with the jail authorities. Fourteen lawyers of both the sides are attending the court proceedings.
- "The court will pronounce a 'very good' verdict which the entire nation will respect," the victim's advocate PC Solanki said
Security for victim
- The vicitim and her family have been provided security after several witnesses in the case have complained of threats.
- Not just the witnesses, journalists covering the case in the past are also known to have received threats
Co-accused brought to jail
- Asaram's co-accused, Shilpi alias Sanchita Gupta, Shiv and Sharad, are have also been brought to the Jodhpur Central jail for hearing.
- They were all employees of the ashram and worked as the warden and attendents.
Mahendra Chawla, a witness, hopes Asaram is punished
Trust 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 #AsaramCaseVerdict pic.twitter.com/mhdBOxLO25— ANI (@ANI) April 25, 2018
Asaram's supporters hope for acquittal
- About 20,000 supporters are reportedly present in Jodhpur
- Asaram is known to have 2 crore followers from about nine countries
- Several followers have also been prayer for the "godman" in Varanasi
Proceedings to begin around 8.30 am
Violence after judgement feared
- There are fears of widespread violence after the judgement and several measures have been taken to avoid any untoward incidents. The precaution comes after supporters of another self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh rioted after his sentence in Panchkula. About 40 people had lost their lives in the riots and properties worth crores was destroyed.
- A personal security officer has been provided for the security of the judge Madhusudan Sharma. Police have also been deployed at his residence.
Family hopes for justice
- The family of the victim said that they hope the girl will get justice. Her father explained that she has gone back to her life and doesn't want to think of the incident.
"My daughter has done her duty. She stood by her testimony throughout the trial. Now we are waiting for justice," her father told NDTV.
- The media will not be allowed into the jail premises
Judge reaches the Jodhpur Central Jail
Asaram's followers detained
- Asaram has asked his followers to stay calm and not pose as an obstacle to the proceedings, but a few followers have already been detained.
- About seven people have been detained until now and four of them are said to be women
Security tightened in Jodhpur
- The verdict on the case will be pronounced in the jail premises on the orders of the Rajasthan High Court and hence, massive security arrangements have been made out the Jodhpur Central Jail.
- Hundreds of policemen have been deployed in the city and vajra vehicles and rapid action personnel are on standby.
- Neighboring states of Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra have also been put on alert with security deployed in sensitive areas.
The trial in the case, in which Asaram was arrested in 2013, has seen quite some incidents with attacks on and deaths of a few eyewitnesses.
The verdict in the case will be pronounced within the jail premises as ordered by the Rajasthan High Court and massive security arrangements have been made in the city.
The police have also imposed Section 144 in Jodhpur until April 30, under which the assembly of more than four people at any place has been banned. Asaram's supporters will not be allowed to gather outside the jail.
Before the Wednesday verdict, Asaram's ashram in the outskirts of the city has been evacuated and all the entry points into the city have also been sealed.
"All buses and railway stations are being watched, we are checking all hotels and dharamshalas... the jail where the verdict will be read out is going to be a no man's land. We are not in the mood to tolerate nonsense," NDTV quoted Jodhpur police chief Amandeep Singh as saying.
The stringent arrangements come after the followers of another self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh rioted after his conviction in Panchkula. Members of the Dera Sacha Sauda vandalised buildings, media vans, petrol pumps, a railway station and train coaches in 2017, leading to the death of about 40 people.
Meanwhile, followers of Asaram have been told to stay away from the court and jail premises. A press note from Sant Sri Asaramji Ashram Trust in Delhi has advised its followers to remain calm and not pose as an obstacle to law.
"Visiting Jodhpur would be a waste of time, money and energy. Bapuji is innocent and will soon be among us," the note said, according to News 18.
Apart from Jodhpur, security has also been beefed up in neighboring areas of Gujarat, and Haryana.
- Asaram is accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in Manai village in Jodhpur August 2013. A case is registered against the "godman" in Delhi's Kamla Nagar police station August 20, 2013. He is charged for the crime and the victim undergoes medical tests.
- Asaram is also accused of trafficking and booked under the POCSO Act.
- He is arrested September 1, 2013 and booked under various sections of POCSO, as well as, the Juvenile Justice Act.
- The chargesheet states that the girl studied at the ashram in Chhindwara. The cook and warden of the ashram complain that the girl is possessed by evil spirits. Her parents, followers of Asaram, take her to the Jodhpur ashram where she is sexually assaulted.
- Witnesses speak up on the matter and give their statements between March 2014 and August 2016.
- The victim's statement is also recorded April 2014. Asaram records statement in October 2016.
- Asaram also has another case against him, in which two sisters from Surat, Gujarat, accuse Asaram and his son Narayan Sai of rape and illegal confinement.
- Sai's statement recorded
- In the years that Asaram has been in jail nine witnesses have been attacked, out of which three witnessed also lost their lives.
- The sessions court has rejected Asaram's bail plea six times. His bail plea has been rejected three times by the high court and thrice by the Supreme Court.
- Several prominent lawyers, including Ram Jethmalani, Salman Khurshid, KK Menon and Subramanian Swamy, have tried to obtain bail for Asaram and failed.
- Final arguments in the trial completed March 2018. The Jodhpur court decides the date of verdict as April 25, 2018.