Former Gujarat top cop DG Vanzara has come out in defence of Asaram Bapu after the self-styled godman was convicted and handed a life term in jail. The former Deputy Inspector-General of Gujarat, who was allegedly involved in fake encounter cases, stated that it was improper to dub Asaram a "rapist". "We respect the judgment and are not contesting or supporting any action proven in a court of law.” "However, it is improper to dub Asaram as rapist for being convicted in the sexual assault case," said Vanzara. Vanzara said: "In the FIR lodged by the victim or in the chargesheet filed, nowhere does it say that she was raped. What it says is that he tried to touch her improperly," said Vanzara. According to Vanzara the victim never stated that she had been raped even during the trial. "Her virginity was found to be intact when medical tests were carried out after the complaint. This was never a case of rape. The sentence is not based on rape committed. "The victim said that Bapuji had touched her with bad intent, which is also a crime. But I doubt whether Asaramji did so. He has been convicted in this matter but decision of any court is not final," Vanzara added.
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The principal of the school where Asaram's victim studied was a much-relieved man today. The teacher, who is also a witness in the case, said he had been facing threats from Asaram's followers to change the child's date of birth to help the godman evade stringent punishment under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. "There was pressure on me to change the date of birth mentioned by the guardian in the form at the time of admission. The disciples wanted me to show the age to be more than it actually was so as to suit them," he said after the verdict. "But society has a lot of faith in schools and it was my moral duty to live up to it and I fulfilled my responsibility," he added. The principal, said he had received threatening letters and was sent a packet with cartridges to put pressure on him. He said the security provided to him by the district administration was inadequate in the backdrop of deaths of some witnesses in the case. Three witnesses have been killed and several others attacked and threatened for speaking against the 77-year-old godman.
No untoward incident after Asaram conviction, says Home Ministry
The Home Ministry said that there has been no untoward incident anywhere in the country in the wake of the conviction of Asaram Bapu. However, the MHA said it was not taking a risk and was keeping itself abreast of the prevailing situation, particularly in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana. "No significant law and order incident has been reported from anywhere so far in wake of the conviction of Asaram Bapu," an MHA spokesperson said, adding that the developments were being closely monitored by respective state governments.
The sections under which Asaram has been found guilty
Section -370 (4) of IPC (trafficking of persons): 10- year sentence and 1,00,000 rupee fine
Section-342 of IPC (wrongful confinement): one year sentence and 1,000 rupee fine
Section-506: one year sentence and 1,000 rupee fine
Section -376 (2) (F) of IPC (rape of minor girl): Life imprisonment till death and 1,00,000 fine
Section 376D of IPC : Life imprisonment till death and 1,00,000 rupee fine
Section 23 of Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act - 6-month sentence
CLICK TO READ | Former Jodhpur DCP Remembers Asaram Case, Says Minor's Statement Helped Police Arrest Godman
It was the successful planning and meticulous operation headed by then DCP of Jodhpur, Ajay Pal Lamba, that managed to send Asaram behind bars.
Self-styled guru Asaram has been given a life sentence under Section 6 of the POCSO, this means he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Asaram has been convicted under sections 370, 376, POCSO, 120 B, 342 and 354. These sections are — Sexual Assault, Outraging a woman's modesty, POCSO, wrongful confinement and criminal conspiracy. He is also convicted of using a 'person as a slave':
CLICK TO READ | From The Beatles' Spiritual Guru to Flamboyant Ram Rahim, the Dark Side of 'Babas'
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was the guru who had made the famous band, The Beatles, his fanbase. The musicians even visited India in the 60's and stayed at his ashram in Rishikesh.
"CPIM welcomes the verdict holding Asaram & 2 others guilty of rape of a minor in Aug 2013. It is a case of a so-called godman exploiting the faith and belief of his followers to sexually exploit a minor and deserves the strongest punishment. This is a victory for justice in a case which saw the use of violence & intimidation against the victim & her family. 9 witnesses were attacked of which three died. The courts should ensure that the other related cases including those of the killing of the witnesses should be completed without delay," tweets CPIM:
CPIM welcomes #AsaramVerdict holding Asaram & 2 others guilty of rape of a minor in Aug 2013. It is a case of a so-called godman exploiting the faith and belief of his followers to sexually exploit a minor and deserves the strongest punishment.#AsaramCaseVerdict #AsaramConvicted— CPI (M) (@cpimspeak) April 25, 2018
This is a victory for justice in a case which saw the use of violence & intimidation against the victim & her family. 9 witnesses were attacked of which three died.#AsaramVerdict #AsaramCaseVerdict #AsaramConvicted— CPI (M) (@cpimspeak) April 25, 2018
Life Sentence For Asaram | Self-styled guru Asaram has been given a life sentence under Section 6 of the POCSO, this means he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. This was confirmed to News18 by Rajasthan DGP OP Gehlotra. Asaram has been convicted under sections 370, 376, POCSO, 120 B, 342 and 354. These sections are — Sexual Assault, Outraging a woman's modesty, POCSO, wrongful confinement and criminal conspiracy. He is also convicted of using a 'person as a slave'. Asaram was arrested on August 31, 2013, after a teenage girl alleged that she was subjected to sexual assault by the self-styled guru when she stayed at the Ashram in Mani village. The victim was a resident of Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh and was a student there.
The official twitter account of the Congress party has tweeted a video of rape convict Asaram and PM Narendra Modi. As a caption, the tweets quotes Aesop's Fables and said, "A man is known by the company he keeps.":
"So, Asaram is a child rapist. And he has been found guilty. Good. But can people please stop sharing images of him with PM Modi. Patronising him before he was exposed to be a pervert is no crime. Let’s be fair and give him the benefit of doubt that he, like us, did not know," tweets actor Farhan Akhtar.
So, Asaram is a child rapist. And he has been found guilty. Good.— Farhan Akhtar (@FarOutAkhtar) April 25, 2018
But can people please stop sharing images of him with PM Modi. Patronising him before he was exposed to be a pervert is no crime.
Let’s be fair and give him the benefit of doubt that he, like us, did not know.
CLICK TO READ | Asaram: The Preacher Who Built an Empire of Rs 10,000 Crore
The scrutiny of documents seized by the police from Asaram's ashram in Motera area here following his arrest in the rape case in 2013 had revealed that the 77-year-old Asaram has amassed a wealth of around 10,000 crore, which is excluding the market value of vast track of lands that he holds.
The Gujarat police has stepped up security outside two of the prominent ashrams of self-styled godman Asaram in the state, as a court in Rajasthan convicted him in a rape case today. Over 50 policemen, led by a deputy commissioner of police, were deployed outside Asaram's ashram in Motera area of Ahmedabad city, DCP HR Muliana said. Around 100 policemen as well as personnel from the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) were deployed at various places in Chandkheda area to keep an eye on followers coming to the ashram, he said. Since Sabarmati area is also close to the ashram, around 40 policemen were maintaining vigil at strategic locations and on connecting roads, the official said. "All the police stations in the city have been given orders to remain alert and conduct patrolling in their respective areas to prevent any unwarranted situation," Muliana said, adding that the situation at the ashram was calm. Besides, adequate police force was deployed since early morning outside Asaram's another prominent ashram in Jahangirpura area of Surat district, a police official said. Continuous police patrolling was on in the diamond city, he said.
Asaram’s real fall started in 2013 after he was arrested for a minor's rape in Rajasthan. After that, two Surat-based sisters had come out to speak about their alleged sexual exploitation at the hand of Asaram and his son Narayan Sai. Surat Police had on October 6, 2013, registered complaints filed by two sisters - one against Asaram and another against his son Narayan Sai - of rape, sexual assault, illegal confinement and other charges. The case is going on against Asaram in Gandhinagar court. He was accused of land grabbing for building his ashrams in Surat and Ahmedabad. His followers were held for threatening and assaulting witnesses in rape cases against him and his son after they were arrested.
Asaram is married to Laxmi Devi and they have two children - son Narayan Sai, who is also behind bars, and daughter Bharti Devi. Asaram ran into troubled waters for the first time in 2008, when two cousins -Dipesh and Abhishek Vaghela- who used to stay at the Gurukul of Asaram's Ashram in Motera area here, were found dead under mysterious circumstances on the riverbed near the ashram in 2008. The state CID had in 2009 booked seven followers of Asaram in the death case. Parents of two cousins had alleged that they were killed in the Asaram's ashram as they practice black magic.
Asaram came to Ahmedabad in the early 70s and started doing penance on the banks of Sabarmati near Motera area. His true journey as a spiritual leader started in 1972 when he set up 'Moksha Kutir', a humble hut, on the banks of the river. Over the years, his popularity as 'Sant Asaramji Bapu' started soaring high and that 'humble hut' converted into a full-fledged Ashram. Within a span of four decades, he added around 400 ashrams in India and abroad. Even today, the Motera Ashram is flocked by followers, who are still in denial mode and maintain that their 'guru' has been jailed on false charges.
As per a short documentary available on his official website, Asaram was born in 1941 as Asumal Sirumalani in Berani village of Sindh province in Pakistan. After partition in 1947, Asumal came to Ahmedabad with his parents and studied only till the fourth standard at a school in Maninagar area, as he was forced to leave his studies after the death of his father Thaumal when he was 10. After doing some odd jobs during his early youth, Asumal embarked on a "spiritual quest" towards the Himalayas, where he met his Guru, Lilashah Bapu, the documentary claimed. It was that Guru who gave him the name 'Asaram' in 1964 and "commanded him to carve his own path and guide people".
The scrutiny of documents seized by the police from Asaram's ashram in Motera area following his arrest in the rape case in 2013 had revealed that the 77-year-old Asaram has amassed a wealth of around 10,000 crores, which is excluding the market value of vast track of lands that he holds. He may still have many followers, but after rape allegations, he was accused of other crimes like land grabbing and practice of black magic in his ashrams.
The Preacher Who Built a Rs 10,000 Crore Empire | From the high pedestal of a preacher having thousands of followers, self-styled guru Asaram's fall from grace came after he was embroiled in the rape case of a minor girl. If we go by figures, Asaram can surely give top businessmen a run for their money as the jailed self-styled guru created an empire of Rs 10,000 crore within four decades, starting from a humble hut on the banks of the Sabarmati river in the early 70s to over 400 ashrams across the country and the world.
Asaram's Charges | Asaram has been convicted under sections 370, 376, POCSO, 120 B, 342 and 354. These sections are — Sexual Assault, Outraging a woman's modesty, POCSO, wrongful confinement and criminal conspiracy. He is also convicted of using a 'person as a slave'. Meanwhile, Home Ministry sources have told News18 that there are no reports of any violence so far.
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