Jodhpur: Proceedings are under way in the Jodhpur Central Jail premises where a trial court judge is set to pronounce its verdict today in the rape case of a teenager by self-styled godman Asaram Bapu.
As per the directions of the Rajasthan High Court, the trial court will deliver its verdict in the Jodhpur Central Jail premises where Asaram Bapu has been lodged for the past over four years.
Special Judge SC/ST Court Madhusudhan Sharma is in the jail premises to deliver the verdict.
A tight security cordon has been put in place around the jail in Jodhpur where prohibitory orders have already been imposed. Anticipating a threat to law and order, the central had yesterday asked Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana governments to tighten security and deploy additional forces as the three states have a large number of followers of the 77-year-old Asaram.
In a communication, the Union Home Ministry told the three states to tighten security and ensure that no violence takes place after the judgment tomorrow. The three states were also told to deploy additional forces in sensitive places, a Home Ministry official said.
Asaram Bapu is accused of raping a teenage girl from Shahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, who was studying at the self-styled godman’s ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. Asaram has denied the rape charges.
The rape survivor had alleged that Asaram Bapu called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013.
Security has also been stepped up around the rape survivor’s house in Shahajahanpur.
The Union Home Ministry’s advisory was sent in view of the fact that large-scale violence was witnessed in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh after a special court in Mohali convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim last year.
Final arguments in the Asaram Bapu case had been completed by the special court for SC/ST cases on April 7 and the court had kept the order reserved for April 25.
Asaram Bapu was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He is under judicial custody since September 2, 2013.
The chargesheet against Asaram Bapu and four other co-accused Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash was filed by the police on November 6, 2013 under various sections of the POCSO Act, Juvenile Justice Act and the Indian Penal Code.
If convicted, Asaram Bapu could be jailed for a minimum of 10 years or awarded a maximum life term, according to prosecution lawyers.
Asaram Bapu is also facing a rape case in Surat in Gujarat in which the Supreme Court earlier this month gave five weeks time to the prosecution to complete the trial.
“We have imposed section 144 of CrPC in the city from April 21 and it would remain effective till April 30. Besides this, we have been keeping a sharp eye on Asaram’s ashrams and checking all hotels and guest houses as well as the bus and railway stations,” DCP (East) Aman Deep Singh said in Jodhpur.
We will also seal the jail on the day of judgment and would not allow anyone to get close to the jail premises, he said.
Asaram Bapu 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.