Live updates: Asaram jailed for life for raping teenager, cries after sentencing

Self-styled godman Asaram has been convicted of raping a teenage girl at his ashram in 2013. A teenage girl from Shahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, who was studying at the godman's ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh, had levelled charges of rape against Asaram.

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2018 - 20:25

JODHPUR: Self-styled godman Asaram has been convicted of raping a teenage girl at his ashram in 2013. A teenage girl from Shahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, who was studying at the godman's ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh, had levelled charges of rape against Asaram. (Watch live streaming of Asaram case verdict on Zee News). The self-styled godman had, however, denied the rape charges.

Here is a timeline of the developments:

Reacting to the order, the victim's father said that he has finally got justice. "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," father of Shahjahanpur victim. 

The chargesheet against Asaram and four other co-accused Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash was filed by the police on November 6, 2013 under various sections of the POSCO Act, Juvenile Justice Act and IPC. A teenage girl from Shahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, who was studying at the godman's ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh had levelled allegations against the self-styled godman of raping her. Asaram had, however, denied the rape charges. The victim had alleged that Asaram called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013.

Asaram was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He is in judicial custody since September 2, 2013. Final arguments in the Asaram case had been completed by the special court for SC/ST cases on April 7 and the court had kept the order reserved for Wednesday.

Apprehending a threat to law and order, the Centre had asked Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana governments to tighten security and deploy additional forces as the three states have a large number of followers of the 77-year-old Asaram.

26 April 2018, 20:25 PM

It may take two or three days more for Asaram's lawyer to file the aeal against the conviction in the Rajasthan High Court.

It has been reported that the judgment delivered by the special SC/ST court in Jodhpur is 453 pages long.

Asaram's lawyers would be unable to file the appeal without going through the whole judgement, which could take a day or two.

Asaram's appea was expected to be filed on Thursday, but that did not happen.

26 April 2018, 13:58 PM

Reacting to the verdict, actress Rakhi Sawant said she is happy that Asaram has been "punished" for raping a minor girl but she wonders why he was given only a life sentence. "I am very happy that Asaram has been punished. It sets a very good example for all potential sexual offenders in the country, especially those who think they are rich and powerful and can get away with violating our women and children. But why not the death sentence in this case? The girl is a minor...No bail, no life for child rapists," said Rakhi.

26 April 2018, 10:53 AM

There was little trouble reported from Asaram's followers who had gathered at Jodhpur or at any other location. The only violence incident of the day that was reported seems to have been the attack on the ashram in Akola.

26 April 2018, 10:52 AM

After Asaram was convicted and given a life sentence on Wednesday for raping a teenage girl, one of his ashrams in Maharashtra's Akola was attacked. The attack was reportedly carried out by members of an extremist fringe outfit called the Sambhaji Brigade. However, police are yet to detain or arrest anyone for the attack.

25 April 2018, 15:53 PM

After the verdict, the principal of the school where Asaram's victim studied was a much-relieved man. The teacher, who is also a witness in the case, said he had been facing threats from Asaram's followers to change the child's date of birth to help the godman evade stringent punishment under POCSO Act. "There was pressure on me to change the date of birth mentioned by the guardian in the form at the time of admission. The disciples wanted me to show the age to be more than it actually was so as to suit them," he said after the verdict. "But society has a lot of faith in schools and it was my moral duty to live up to it and I fulfilled my responsibility," he added.

25 April 2018, 15:51 PM

When the judgement against him was read out, he did not seem to be able to comprehend what was going on. As per Zee News sources present in court, he initially started laughing. Later, he began mumbling some religious chants then turned to his lawyer, questioning if he could do anything. Realising the gravity of the order, he then slapped his hands against his head and started crying in court. He sought leniency but was told that he will have to face the punishment if he has done anything wrong. 

25 April 2018, 15:02 PM

Along with imprisonment for life, Asaram has also been fined Rs 1 lakh. The other two convicts, Sharat Chandra and Shilpi, have been fined Rs 50,000 each.

25 April 2018, 14:55 PM

After the sentencing order was announced in the case, Asaram got emotional in court and started crying. The judgement in the case was pronounced by SC/ST cases special judge Madhu Sudan Sharma inside the Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram is lodged.

25 April 2018, 14:47 PM

Shilpi and Sharad who were also convicted in the case have been sentenced to 20 years each in jail by Jodhpur Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Court.

25 April 2018, 14:35 PM

Spokesperson for Asaram, Neelam Dubey, said that they respect the judiciary but will appeal against the order in a higher court after reading the details of the judgement. 

25 April 2018, 14:33 PM

Asaram has been sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a teenager in a 2013 case. He was convicted earlier in the day by the Jodhpur court.

25 April 2018, 14:31 PM

Quantum of sentencing of Asaram is being read out in court inside the Jodhpur Central Jail. The minimum punishment that he faces under the charges on which he has been convicted is of 10 years. He has been convicted under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act. 

25 April 2018, 12:16 PM

Asaram's followers are still backing their guru. They believe that he is being framed and all allegations against him are motivated. Teary eyed, his supporters are praying for Asaram at his ahrams across the country.

25 April 2018, 11:50 AM

Asaram created an empire of Rs 10,000 crore within four decades, starting from a humble hut on the banks of the Sabarmati river in the early 70s to over 400 ashrams across the country and the world.

25 April 2018, 11:40 AM

Asaram has been convicted under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act. The judgement in the case for raping a minor was pronounced by Judge Madhusudan inside the Jodhpur Central Jail.

25 April 2018, 11:32 AM

The first political reaction has come from Congress leader Ashok Gehlot who said: "The time has come when people should be able to differentiate between the actual saints and the frauds, as this creates a bad image of the country in the international arena."

25 April 2018, 11:21 AM

The hearing for the quantum of punishment has already begun in court. The defence lawyers are arguing that Asaram should be given minimum punishment and are citing his age as the main reason. It is likely that the sentencing will be announced by the evening today.

25 April 2018, 10:57 AM

Asaram has been found guilty of raping a 16-year-old in his Ashram in a 2013 case. Two other accused Sharad and Shilpi have also been held guilty. However, Shiva and Prakash have been acquitted by the court. The victim's father reacted to the reports saying he has got justice. "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," father of Shahjahanpur victim. 

25 April 2018, 10:08 AM

Mahendra Chawla, one of the key witnesses in the Surat rape case against Asaram, is hoping that justice will be meted out in the case. He added that his life is constantly under threat. "Trust the judicary and am I 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," Chawla said.

25 April 2018, 10:04 AM

Proceedings in the case are underway in the Jodhpur Central Jail premises. Special Judge SC/ST Court Madhusudhan Sharma is in the jail premises to deliver the verdict. 

25 April 2018, 09:48 AM

Security has been provided to the family of Akhil Gupta, a witness in the rape case against Asaram Bapu in Surat, who was shot dead in January 2015, ahead of the verdict today. Akhil was returning home from his shop on a scooter when the two motorcycle-borne assailants shot at him on January 11, 2015. Gupta was a cook and personal aide of Asaram, who is in jail since September 2013 in connection with another case of sexual assault on a minor girl in Jodhpur.

25 April 2018, 09:43 AM

Along with Ahmedabad, his ashrams in Varanasi and Bhopal are also seeing Asaram's followers gather to show their support to the self-styled godman.

25 April 2018, 09:41 AM

While one supporter of Asaram was detained outside the Central Jail in Jodhpur, several of his followers have gathered at his ashram in Ahmedabad. 

25 April 2018, 09:39 AM

The judge is in the make-shirt court made inside the jail premises. Other co-accused Shiva, Shilpi and Sharad have also reached court. Despite being granted bail, a co-accused Prakash is still in jail on the excuse that he doesn't have the money to pay for the parole. 

25 April 2018, 09:09 AM

Both the roads towards the Central jail where Asaram is lodged have been sealed and only mediapersons are allowed outside the jail. Fearing a threat to law and order situation, the Centre has asked Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana governments to tighten security and deploy additional forces as the three states have a large number of followers of the 77-year-old Asaram who faces a minimum term of 10 years if convicted. 
 

25 April 2018, 09:09 AM

Ahead of the verdict, a supporter of Asaram was detained outside the Jodhpur Central Jail where prohibitory orders have been clamped. Asaram's supporter reached near the jail and tried to put a garland on his poster, but the policemen nabbed him. The poster was put on wall of a corridor outside the jail boundary where the family members of prisoners wait. The supporter managed to reach there despite high-security arrangements. 
 

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