Indian court imprisons spiritual guru for life in rape case

Asaram Bapu Asaram bapu rape case verdict Rajasthan

Asaram Bapu Asaram bapu rape case verdict Rajasthan

A court in Jodhpur on Wednesday sentenced Asaram to life in jail, while also awarding 20-year jail terms to other two convicts, both his aides.

Asaram and two other convicted in the case's sentencing comes at a time when the recent heat in the country generated due to the outrage after the rapes of minors in Unnao and Kathua has been asking for answers from the government.

The verdict was pronounced from Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram is lodged.

Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP), the apex body of Hindu saints, a year ago released a list of fake seers, which included Asaram and another rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Asumal Sirumalani alias Asaram Bapu was arrested in 2013 after a 16-year-old girl from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh alleged sexual assault by him in his ashram, on the outskirts of Jodhpur.

In a complaint to police in 2013, the girl accused Bapu of raping her when she visited his retreat in Jodhpur with her mother.

Asaram, 79, was today convicted under the stringent provisions of the Prevention of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Dhara said an appeal would be filed in the Rajasthan High Court against the judgment and for Asaram's bail.

The verdict in the case will be announced from inside the jail premises, as mandated by the Rajasthan High Court. The teenager and her family went to a different state to meet Sirumalani, and spent the night at his ashram - where he raped her as her parents slept.

"Asaram (Bapu) has been sentenced for life until death".

The girl's family said they had been followers of Bapu for more than a decade. "We have got justice".

The Hindu televangelist and yoga guru still commands a devoted following despite his star power fading following the rape charges and other controversies.

Bapu has been in prison since his arrest in the case in 2013.

Ahead of the verdict, Jodhpur police imposed Section 144 in the city to prevent violence breaking out in case his followers were unhappy with the verdict.

Two Surat sisters made similar allegations against him and his son Narayan Sai.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the places named after Asaram will be rechristened.

The influential guru, who has been in custody since 2013, had called the trial a political conspiracy and refused to cooperate with a police investigation.

Over the last four years, since the trial began, as many as nine witnesses in the two cases have been attacked. He has also been investigated for murder and has been accused of forcing followers to undergo castrations to "get closer to god".

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