Asaram verdict in Jodhpur court built to try Operation Blue Star militants

The court in Jodhpur Central Jail where the Asaram case verdict was delivered was built in 1985 and tried 364 alleged Sikh militants.

Asaram Verdict Updated: Apr 25, 2018 15:02 IST
Rakesh Goswami
Rakesh Goswami
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Asaram Bapu,Operation Blue Star,Jodhpur
Self-styled godman Asaram (pictured) has been convicted of raping a 16-year-old.(HT/File Photo)

The special TADA court in Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram was found guilty of raping a minor girl, was built in 1985 to try accused Sikh militants after Operation Blue Star. The seven-day military operation was carried out in 1984 to take control of Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar and to flush out militants, including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, holed up inside the gurudwara.

Former jailer of Jodhpur Central Jail, Himmat Singh, remembers there were 364 accused lodged in Jodhpur prison and were tried in this special jail in the erstwhile ward number 2. The court stopped functioning in 1988 after the then Punjab government withdrew cases against the accused and the 364 people were released.

The fast-track court tried cases under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, the anti-terrorism law that was in force between 1985 and 1995 in the backdrop of the Punjab insurgency.

“The courtroom is 30 metres by 30 metres and is 25 metres from the main entrance to the prison on the left side,” Singh added. “It is very close to the barrack where Asaram is lodged.”

The offices of the court staff were converted into two barracks after the court stopped functioning, the former jailer said. Asaram is lodged in one of these barracks. When actor Salman Khan was sent to jail after he was convicted of killing two black bucks, he was put in the other, called barrack number 2.

“The courtroom has a dais for the judge and two docks in place. Other facilities were removed after 1988 but these remained there until I retired from the jail in 2001,” Singh added.

Asaram’s trial was also held in the courtroom inside the jail for some time until the Rajasthan high court shifted the trial to the special court for SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. In Rajasthan, in every district headquarters, the SC/ST courts are authorised to try cases registered under POCSO (Prevention of Children against Sexual Offences) Act.

On Wednesday morning, special judge Madhusudan Sharma gave his verdict in the jail courtroom with six of his staff — reader, lower divisional clerk, upper division clerk, personal assistant, class IV employee and stenographer.

First Published: Apr 24, 2018 18:51 IST