Jodhpur/New Delhi: Ahead of Wednesday's trial court verdict in the alleged rape of a teenager by self-styled 'godman' Asaram, security was stepped up on Tuesday in Jodhpur where prohibitory orders have already been clamped.
As per the directions of the Rajasthan High Court, the trial court will deliver its verdict in the Jodhpur Central Jail premises where Asaram has been lodged for the past over four years. "We have made all arrangements for the judgment day," DIG Jail Vikram Singh said. The magistrate along with court staff, Asaram and the co-accused along with the defence and prosecution counsels will remain present in the courtroom in the jail premises, he added.
Centre asks three states to tighten security
On the other hand, the Centre on Tuesday asked Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana to tighten security and deploy additional forces ahead of the verdict. In a communication, the Home Ministry told the three states to beef up security and ensure that no violence takes place after the judgment.
The three states were also told to deploy additional forces in sensitive places, PTI was quoted as saying by a Home Ministry official. Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana have a large number of followers of Asaram.
Prohibitory orders have already been issued in Jodhpur. "We have imposed section 144 of CrPC in the city from April 21 and it would remain effective till April 30. Besides this, we have been keeping a sharp eye on Asaram's ashrams and checking all hotels and guest houses as well as the bus and railway stations," DCP (East) Aman Deep Singh said in Jodhpur.
"We will also seal the jail on the day of judgment and would not allow anyone to get close to the jail premises," he added.
Here's what the case is all about:
Asaram is accused of raping a teenage girl from Shahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, who was studying at his ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. Asaram has denied the rape charges.
The victim has alleged that Asaram called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013.
The 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 for April 25. Asaram was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He is in judicial custody since September 2, 2013.
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. If convicted, Asaram could be jailed for a minimum of 10 years or awarded a maximum life term, according to prosecution lawyers.
(With PTI inputs)