The Hush Post: Asaram has been pronounced guilty in the rape case
Earlier, Jodhpur was turned into a tightly and heavily guarded fortress as a trial court in Jodhpur was set to pronounce its verdict in the rape case involving self-styled godman Asaram on Wednesday. Asaram was facing charges of sexually exploiting a 16-year old girl from UP’s Shahjahanpur in his Manai ashram near Jodhpur in 2013.
A special courtroom had been set up inside the Jodhpur Central Jail. It has declared that Asaram is guilty of the crime. Asaram, four co-accused and the defence and prosecution lawyers were present in the courtroom.
Four co-accused of Asaram have also been held guilty by judge Madhusudan Sharma. Two accused have been acquitted by the court.
A special courtroom had been set up inside the Jodhpur Central Jail for pronouncing the verdict, after the city police had requested the Rajasthan HC to direct the trial court to pronounce its judgment from inside the jail. Asaram, four co-accused and the defence and prosecution lawyers were present in the make-shift courtroom in the jail premises.
Final arguments in the case had been completed by the special court for SC/ST cases on April 7 and the court had kept the order reserved to be pronounced on April 25. A Jodhpur court on Tuesday had dismissed a petition seeking entry of media persons in Jodhpur Central Jail for the coverage.
In view of the violence during the verdict in Gurmit Ram Rahim’s case in Panchkula, Haryana, last year, extra measures had been taken to stop followers of Asaram from creating any trouble. All hotels and guest-houses in Jodhpur had been directed not to allow any of his followers. Strict vigil at bus stands, railway stations and airports had been ensured to prevent his followers from entering Jodhpur. All entries to the city had been sealed and control rooms had been activated in neighbouring districts and states.
A 10-day prohibitory order from April 21-30 had also been issued. The Centre had directed Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and UP to tighten security and deploy additional forces. The Shahjahanpur district administration had stepped up security around the rape survivor’s house.
Before reinventing himself as a spiritual guru, Asaram was known by the name of Asumal Sindhi as a ‘tongawala’ carrying pilgrims from the railway station to Dargah Sharif in Ajmer. Asumal arrived in India from Pakistan’s Sindh when he was seven-years-old. Initially, his family lived in Gujarat before Asumal moved to Ajmer in 1963 on an invitation from a relative.