Self-styled Indian godman Asaram gets life term for rape

A self-styled Indian godman Asaram Bapu has been sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a girl by a court in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, on Wednesday.

The court sentenced two others to 20 years each in jail and let off two other accused.

Asaram was arrested in September 2013 for raping a 16-year-old girl from Uttar Pradesh’s Shahajahanpur and jailed in Jodhpur Central Jail for over two years.

Family of the rape survivor, while awaiting the verdict on Wednesday, said they had been facing boycott and threats from friends devoted to Asaram over the past five years.

The godman has many supporters in Rajasthan, Haryana and Gujarat. In Jodhpur, police blocked entry of Asaram’s followers into the jail premises and evacuated his ashram to prevent any untoward incident.

A supporter of Asaram was detained when he tried to garland his poster put on a wall outside the jail.

Asaram had been booked in a similar case involving two sisters who stayed at his ashram or monastery in Gujarat between 1997 and 2006.

The two lodged separate cases against Asaram and his son, Narayan Sai, accusing them of repeated rape and illegal confinement, among other charges.

But three key witnesses died during the trial and other witnesses and families of victims were attacked or received death threats.

Another self-styled godman, Gurmeet Ram Rahim, was jailed in a rape case last August in Haryana.