Asaram case: victim's father thanks judiciary for justice delivered

Asaram Bapu Asaram bapu rape case verdict Rajasthan

The father of the rape victim in the Asaram Bapu molestation case hailed the Jodhpur court's verdict convicting the self-styled godman on Wednesday and handing him a life term.

Two of the four other co-accused, including a woman, were also found guilty and were sentenced to 20 years.

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

Meanwhile, security arrangements have been tightened across the country on the direction of the union home ministry to prevent a repeat of the large-scale violence after the conviction of another self-styled godman, Gurmeet Ram Rahim, in a rape case last August.

Asaram was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl who was reportedly living in one of his ashrams, with other devotees, in Chhindwara in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

The survivor, hailing from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, later revealed her ordeal to her parents who subsequently filed a police complaint.

While talking to reporters outside Asaram's ashram in Motera area in Ahmedabad, Vanzara said the entire case was aimed at tarnishing the image of seers like Asaram.

The Indian guru with millions of followers was found guilty Wednesday of raping a teenage devotee on the pretext of ridding her of evil spirits. Under the new law, the death penalty could be awarded to those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12.

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However, an ABP report quoting sources also says that after the judgement was read, Asaram reacted telling a policeman, "khayenge, piyenge, mauj arenge kyunki ab yahi rehna hai (I will eat, drink and be merry since I have to spend all my life here)".

"I am happy to get justice". Her family said they had been followers of Bapu for more than a decade.

Asaram was arrested by Jodhpur Police in September 2013 from Indore and has been in jail since then.

Prakash and Shiva have been acquitted.

The CPI (M) welcomed the judgment, saying a so-called godman exploiting the faith and belief of his followers to sexually exploit a minor deserves the strongest punishment.

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.

The reaction to the recent cases, which has seen thousands of people take to the streets in protest, has been compared to the nationwide outcry over the 2012 gang rape of 23-year-old physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh, who later died from injuries sustained in the attack.

Asaram is married to Laxmi Devi and they have two children - son Narayan Sai, who is also behind bars, and daughter Bharti Devi.

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