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Asaram verdict highlights: Jail court, tight security, reactions

A Jodhpur court on Wednesday delivered its verdict in the Asaram rape case, convicting the self-styled godman of raping a 16-year-old girl, and sentencing him to life imprisonment. Here are the highlights.

Asaram Verdict Updated: Apr 26, 2018 18:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jodhpur
Asaram case verdict live,Asaram case verdict,live updates
Asaram has been convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl from Uttar Pradesh’s Shahajahanpur in 2013.(HT File Photo)

A Jodhpur court on Wednesday convicted self-styled godman Asaram and sentenced him to life imprisonment for the rape of a teenage girl at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur in 2013.

The verdict was pronounced in the TADA court in the Jodhpur Central Jail amidst high security, apprehending a threat to law and order from his followers. Judge Madhusudan Sharma also convicted two other accused — Shilpi Gupta and Sharatchandra — in the case and awarded them jail term of 20 years each.

Asaram was charged with raping a 16-year-old girl from Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur in 2013.

Here are the highlights:

7:46 pm: Asaram is now Quaidi number 130 in Jodhpur Central Jail.

6.45pm: Following the conviction of Asaram in a rape case, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said on Wednesday the places named after the controversial godman would be rechristened.

“No one is above the Constitution, the law, and the public sentiments. It is a country where the name of Aurangzeb Road has also been changed. Soon, we will take appropriate action on this matter too,” Chouhan said.

4. 25 pm: CPI (M) Politburo member Brinda Karat welcomes the judgement.

“I welcome the judgement. In this case the witnesses were attacked, one was killed. The victim and her father were threatened, they were forced to leave their home. They were displaced. But today their fight for justice has been vindicated. What is worse is that this godman used the ‘bhakti’ of these followers to abuse their believes,” says Karat.

4.15 pm:

3.50 pm: “I can say that hard work from everyone has finally paid off. We all are really happy with this decision. I need media’s support to get the correct version out there to the supporters of Asaram,” says Jodhpur DCP Amandeep Kapoor.

3.43pm: Home ministry informs that no untoward incident has been reported so far from anywhere.

A home ministry spokesperson says, “No significant law and order incident has been reported from anywhere so far in wake of the conviction of Asaram Bapu.”

3.27pm: Asaram has been given 10 years rigorous imprisonment for trafficking of minor (section 370(4) of IPC), one year for wrongful confinement (section 342 of IPC), life imprisonment until death for rape (section 376(2)(f) of IPC) and six months of simple imprisonment (section 23 of Juvenile Justice Act).

3.10pm: The court ordered a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the victim.

3.08pm: Victim’s father hails the judgement. “We accept the decision of the honourable court. This case will set an example for the daughters of the country who are harassed at the hands of people like Asaram,” the father said.

2.55pm: During the arguments on quantum of sentence, defence counsel Sajjanraj Surana requested the court to take into consideration Asaram’s age while public prosecutor Pokarram Vishnoi requested the maximum punishment under the charges against him.

2.38pm: Asaram breaks down in courtroom after hearing his sentence.

2.33pm: Two other convicts, Shilpi alias Sanchita Gupta and Sharatchandra, get 20 years each in jail.

Sharatchandra was the director of Chhindwara residential school where the 16-year-old girl was studying in Class 12, and Shilpi Gupta was the warden of her hostel.

2.31pm: Asaram sentenced to life imprisonment for rape.

1.55pm: Judge Madhusudan Sharma resumes his seat in the courtroom. Decision on quantum of sentence for Asaram soon.

1.40pm: Kiran Jha Thakur, founder of Kalpana, a non-government body that helped the victim’s family pursue the case, tells Reuters,“I am waiting for the sentencing and I hope he gets the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.”

1.15pm: Expressing satisfaction with the verdict convicting Asaram, the rape victim’s father told PTI, “For the past four months, our family members had not been coming out (of our house)...it is satisfying that the verdict has gone against him,” he said.

“We were living in constant terror, our business was adversely hit,” he said

12.55pm: “This judgment is a lesson to people who think they can get away by committing sexual offences against children. I would like to appreciate the girl and her family for fighting against the culprits,” says Yashwant Jain of National Commission For Protection of Child Rights.

12.23pm: Arguments over quantum of sentence end. The judge has retired to his chamber. The verdict on the sentencing is expected soon.

12.14pm: Gujarat police has stepped up security outside two prominent ashrams of Asaram in the state. Over 50 policemen, led by a deputy commissioner of police, were deployed outside Asaram’s ashram in Motera area of Ahmedabad, around 40 policemen were maintaining vigil near Sabarmati area and around 100 policemen as well as personnel from the State Reserve Police Force were deployed at various places in Chandkheda area, DCP H R Muliana said.

Police has been deployed at another prominent ashram in Jahangirpura area of Surat, a police official said. Continuous police patrolling was on in the city, he said.

Read | Top cop probing Asaram rape case received 2000 threat letters, phone calls

11.45am: Congress’ Ashok Gehlot says, “The time has come when people should be able to differentiate between the actual saints and frauds, as this creates a bad image of the country in the international arena.”

11.32am: Courts in Rajasthan close at 1pm. If arguments over quantum of sentence for Asaram take long, the hearing will continue on Thursday.

11.20am: District Magistrate Amrit Tripathi has extended prohibitory orders across Shahjahanpur district following the judgement.

11.18am: IPS officer Ajay Pal Lamba, who supervised probe into the rape case in 2013, says truth has won. “Verdict shows that even persons from the weakest sections of society can take on the most influential ones ,” says Lamba.

Lamba calls judgment a “historic verdict for criminal jurisprudence”.

11.04am: Along with Asaram, court convicted Shilpi Gupta and Sharatchanda in the case. Two other accused — Shiva and Prakash — were acquitted.

Arguments on quantum on sentence are being heard in the court now.

10.56am: Victim’s father says, “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.”

10.50am: Asaram’s spokesperson Neelam Dubey says, “We will discuss with our legal team and then decide our future course of action. We have confidence in our judiciary.”

10.42am: Asaram and two other accused have been convicted by the Jodhpur SC/ST court in the rape case.

10.25am: Jodhpur police is flying a drone around jail premises for security and surveillance purposes.

9.53am: Security has been provided to the family of Akhil Gupta, a witness in the rape case against Asaram in Surat, who was shot dead in January 2015, ahead of the verdict, police tell PTI.

9.52am: The case against Asaram is registered under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. In Rajasthan, courts hearing cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act are authorised to hear cases under the POCSO Act.

Read | Asaram rape case: Woman’s family under police protection, seeks strict punishment

9.49am: There are thirty people inside the jail courtroom including the judge, one public prosecutor, five accused, 17 advocates and six court staff.

9.32am: Proceedings begin in court. Judge marks attendance of all the accused and their counsels.

9.20am: Four followers of Asaram have been detained from Jodhpur railway station. Police say they came from Gujarat.

9.16am: Asaram’s former aide Mahendra Chawla, a key witness in the case, says, “Trust judiciary and 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.”

9.14am: Co-accused Shilpi Gupta alias Sanchita, and Sharatchandra reach Jodhpur Central Jail.

9.11am: Judge Madhusudan Sharma has reached Jodhpur Central Jail courtroom with his staff.

9.10am: Ahead of the verdict, the district administration in Shahjahanpur stepped up security around the house of the victim.

9.05am: Both the roads towards the Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram is lodged, have been sealed and only mediapersons have been allowed outside the jail, PTI reports.

8.55am: Prayers underway at Asaram’s ashram in Varanasi.

8.45am: A follower of Asaram who had reached Jodhpur Central Jail with a garland was detained by the police, ANI reports.

8.15am: Security tightened at Jodhpur Central Jail ahead of the verdict.

8.05am: Co-accused in the case, Shiva, Shilpi Gupta alias Sanchita, Prakash and Sharatchandra will be present in the jail courtroom during the verdict.

7.55am: The judge of the special court for SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act cases, Madhusudan Sharma, is expected to reach his court at 8am, where he will be informed about the high court order allowing for the delivery of the judgment in a special courtroom inside Jodhpur Central Jail.

7.50am: The verdict in the case is expected by 10 am. If convicted, Asaram will get a minimum of 10 years in jail. The maximum punishment in charges framed against him is life imprisonment.