'Spiritual guru' sentenced to life for raping 16-year-old girl

'Spiritual guru' sentenced to life for raping 16-year-old girl

'Spiritual guru' sentenced to life for raping 16-year-old girl

In the case registered in Rajasthan, a teenage girl had accused Asaram of sexual assault at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur.

Asaram unsuccessfully moved 12 bail applications, of which six were rejected by the trial court, three by the Rajasthan High Court and three by the Supreme Court.

Asaram has been held guilty for raping a 16-year old girl five years ago.

The conviction of self-styled godman Asaram Bapu has given ray of hope to those who are fighting against the powerful people to seek justice. He said he respected the court's verdict, but added that it was "improper to dub Asaram as a rapist for being convicted in a sexual assault case".

Asaram's spokesperson Neelam Dubey later said they will speak to lawyers on the next steps. He was then taken to Jodhpur Central Jail. The godman has been represented by a battery of lawyers including, most prominently Ram Jethmalani, and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy, who had said that Asaram was the victim of a conspiracy against Hindutva groups.

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Police placed the Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana states - all centers of large numbers of Asaram supporters - on high alert Wednesday before the verdict was read.

"It goes on to show that even if you are a "godman", if you commit a crime, our judiciary will get you", Thakur said. In images from his court appearances over the past five years, he looks increasingly weak and tired.

Born into a poor family in what is now Pakistan, Harpalani built his spiritual empire from the ground up. He has lakhs of devotees not merely in India but overseas too. Asaram began opening ashrams in the early 1970s. "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". The case against him stems from 2013, when he was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting the girl, who was then 16.

Recalling the tough stand he took in the days preceding Asaram's arrest as the Godman was elusive, Gehlot said, "The credibility of the government was stake and I just followed the court's order which was based on prima facie evidence". A witness, on 8 July, 2015 changed his statement and said that she had no idea about the activities of Asaram.

While delivering the judgment, magistrate Madhusudan Sharma observed that the accused not only broke the trust of the victim but also tarnished the image of saints.

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