Shahjahanpur (UP): The principal of the school where Asaram's victim studied was a much-relieved man on Wednesday with a Jodhpur court pronouncing the self-styled godman guilty of her rape.
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, who is not being identified by PTI to protect the victim's identity, said he had received threatening letters and was sent a packet with cartridges to put pressure on him. The teacher 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. Followers of Asaram and his son Narayan Sai were accused of threatening people who testified against the "guru". "Only one constable has been given to me for my security," the teacher said. "The administration needs to look into it," he termed the conviction of Asaram as the victory of truth and justice.
A Jodhpur court on Wednesday held Asaram guilty of raping a teenage girl in his ashram five years ago, the second case of a powerful spiritual leader being convicted of a sexual offence in less than a year after Gurmeet Ram Rahim last August. The court sentenced him to life imprisonment. The verdict was delivered amid tight security arrangements in Jodhpur and in other parts of Rajasthan, as well as Gujarat and Haryana.
The teenager had said in her complaint that Asaram had called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013. The girl from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh was studying at Asaram's ashram in Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. Final arguments in the Asaram case were completed on April 7 and the court had kept the order reserved for April 25.
Asaram was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He has under judicial custody since September 2, 2013. He is also facing a rape case in Surat in Gujarat. Asaram 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.