A Jodhpur court in Rajasthan on Wednesday convicted the controversial spritual guru Asaram Bapu and two of his four associates in a 2013 rape case.Â
A special Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Court, which was set up in the Jodhpur jail where Asaram was lodged, ruled that the â€˜self-styledâ€™ godman raped a 16-year-old girl in 2013 at his ashram in the outskirts of the city.
The court sentenced Asaram to life imprisonment and awarded 20 years each in jail to two of his associates - Sanchita alias Shilpi and Sharad Chandra.
The court, however, acquitted two of his associates Prakash and Sava Ram Hethvadiya in the rape case.
Fearing an outbreak of violence that may follow the verdict, the security has been tightened across the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana where Asaram has thousands of followers.
Asaram, in jail since August 31, 2013, was charged under relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
After the conviction, the self-styled godman could faceÂ a minimum of 10 years imprisonment or a maximum of lifeÂ sentence, according to prosecution lawyers.
# 02:50 PM: "Yes, we will move high court against the verdict," says Neelam Dubey, spokeswoman of Asaram.
# 02: 30 PM:Â Asaram guilty of raping minor; sentenced to life imprisonment. The court has awarded 20 years each in jail toÂ Shilpi and Sharad, two of Asaram's four associates who were also co-accused in the case.
# 02:15 PM: The judge is reading out his judgement. The quantum of the sentenceÂ to pronounced soon.
# 12:55 PM:Â This judgment is a lesson to people who think they can get away by committing sexual offences against children. I would like to appreciate the girl &her family for fighting against the culprits: Yashwant Jain, National Commission For Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
# 11:40 AM: The quontum of the sentence will be pronounced shortly.
# 11:15 AM:Â The time has come when people should be able to differentiate between the actual saints and the frauds, as this creates a bad image of the country in the international arena: Ashok Gehlot, Congress on Asaram convicted in rape case
# 11: 05 AM:Â Asaram is convicted, we have got justice. I want to thank everyone who supported us in this fight. Now I hope he will get strict punishment. I also hope the witnesses who were murdered or kidnapped get justice: Father of Shahjahanpur victim
# 10:50 AM:Â We will discuss with our legal team and then decide our future course of action. We have confidence in our judiciary: Neelam Dubey,Asaram spokesperson on Asaram convicted
#10:45 AM:Â Three accused including Asaram convicted, two other accused acquitted by Jodhpur Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Court in a rape case.
# 09:45 AM:Â Security stepped up around victim's house:Â With a special SC/ST court in Jodhpur all set to pronounce its verdict tomorrow in a 2013 rape case against self-styled godman Asaram, the district administration in Shahjahanpur has stepped up security around the house of the victim. Asaram is accused of raping a teenage girl from Shahajahanpur, who was studying at the self-styled godman's ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.
# 09:10 AM:Â Madhya Pradesh: Prayers underway at Asaram's ashram in Bhopal.Â
# 08:45 AM:Â Rajasthan: A follower of Asaram who had reached Jodhpur Central Jail with a garland has been detained by Police
# 08:31 AM:Â The Judge has reached Jodhpur Central Jail, the verdict on Asaram to be pronounced shortly.
Rajasthan: The Judge has reached Jodhpur Central Jail, verdict on Asaram to be pronounced shortly pic.twitter.com/pnuUPvcQG6â€” ANI (@ANI) April 25, 2018
# 08:30 AM: Jodhpur, where Asaram was in jail since 2013 has been converted to a fortress ahead of the verdict. Section 44 has also been imposed in the area and a large contingent of police and security forces has been deployed to avoid prevent any retaliation from his followers.