Indian guru faces life in prison for raping teenage devotee

26 April 2018, 06:49 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Asaram Bapu sentenced to life in rape case

Asaram and 2 aides convicted; 2 other co-accused acquitted

A controversial Indian guru with millions of followers was sentenced to life imprisonment today after being found guilty of the rape of a 16-year-old follower.

Asaram was accused of attacking a 16-year-old girl at his spiritual centre five years ago. He has been jailed since then, with courts refusing multiple attempts at bail.

Earlier, when the reports of Asaram's conviction first came, the victim's father expressed satisfaction over the verdict and demanded the "strictest punishment" for him.

Neelam Dubey, a spokeswoman for the Asaram Ashram, told reporters they will appeal against the verdict in a higher court after speaking with their legal team.

The 2005-batch IPS officer, now posted as SP, Anti Corruption Bureau, in Jodhpur, also thanked members of his team members associated with the probe.

Meanwhile, Congress veteran Ashok Gehlot, who was Rajasthan chief minister when Asaram Bapu was arrested for the rape, said people should now differentiate between real and fake saints.

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The police on October 6, 2013, registered complaints filed by the two sisters - one against Asaram and another against Narayan Sai - of rape, sexual assault, illegal confinement and other charges.

"It goes on to show that even if you are a "godman", if you commit a crime, our judiciary will get you", Thakur said. Asaram Bapu, 77, who leads hundreds of ashrams in India and overseas, was convicted at a closed jailhouse court hearing in Jodhpur, in western Rajasthan state where hundreds of police stood guard. Two others accused in the case were acquitted. Especially, in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana, where there are a very large number of Asaram's followers.

Born into a poor family in what is now Pakistan, Harpalani built his spiritual empire from the ground up.

He claimed he had copies of both the FIR and the chargesheet of the case and said he was a "vigilant follower" of Asaram, NDTV reported. Asaram was also found to have encroached on government and other land around his Motera ashram in Gujarat.

The victim's father, who can not be named to protect his daughter's identity, told the ANI news agency that he was pleased with the verdict. In August, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh - a guru known for his sparkling outfits and his appearances in low-budget self-produced movies - was convicted of sexually assaulting two female followers. "It is a country where the name of Aurangzeb Road has also been changed", he said.

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