The verdict against Asaram Bapu, 77, was read out inside a prison in Jodhpur, Rajasthan state, due to fears that his followers might resort to violence.
In this case, a total of 58 witnesses make evident. Meanwhile, Asaram Bapu has denied the rape charges. The condition of the girl was proved that she was possessed by the evil.
The defence lawyer said that Asaram appeared normal in the court but became sad and anxious when the court convicted him. The country wide protests against alleged rape cases in Kathua and Unnao have also seen rallies in support of the accused by political outfits in last few days. Asaram Bapu is also facing a trial in another sexual assault case at Surat in Gujarat.
The girl, who was the complainant in the case, told the Indian Express that her family was isolated after they lodged the complaint and she had also started receiving threats, which led her to being confined to home. “And two others, including a woman, have been sentenced to 20 years in prison”, Rajendra Singh, a lawyer for the defence team told AFP outside the court in western Rajasthan state.
Ajay Pal Lamba, the IPS officer who supervised the investigation into the case, after Asaram’s conviction, said that “This is a historic verdict for criminal jurisprudence”.
Asaram was shifted to barrack no. 2 in Jodhpur Central Jail. He said that it wasn’t a crime if someone was associated with Asaram before he was accused or found guilty.
“When I came to know what had happened to my daughter, it was shattering for us.we lost all faith in him when we learnt about his misdeeds”, he said, demanding the “strictest punishment” to Asaram.
When he was arrested in 2013, investigators had said the 77-year-old guru owed his enormous wealth to buildings, stocks and shares, a lucrative money-lending practice and by selling Ayurvedic products and religious booklets.
Asaram Bapu, one of India’s most charismatic and controversial “godmen”, was given the maximum sentence at a closed jailhouse hearing in Rajasthan state, where hundreds of police were on high alert for a backlash from his disciples.
Both Asaram and his son are also named in at least two other rape cases.
Police filed the charge sheet against Asaram Bapu and four other co-accused – Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash – on November 06, 2013.
The administration had also stepped up vigil at Asaram’s ashram at Rudrapur, about two km away. Asaram’s 12 bail applications have been rejected since 2013 and the girl’s parents have been extremely happy with the verdict.
Over the last four years since the trial has began, as many as nine witnesses have been attacked, three of whom had been killed.