Self-styled godman Asaram Bapu and two of his aides, who were accused in a rape case involving a minor, were on Wednesday convicted by the special court for SC/ST Cases in Jodhpur. Two others were acquitted by the court. Asaram, Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash were accused in the case. While Asaram, Sharad and Shilpi have been convicted, Shiva and Prakash were acquitted. The Jodhpur Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Court awarded maximum term of life imprisonment to Asaram while Shilpi and Sharad were sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Victim's family earlier welcomed the conviction and thanked the media for support.
"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 told the media after the court verdict.
The final arguments in the case had been completed by the special court for SC/ST cases on April 7 and the court had kept the order reserved to be pronounced on April 25. Asaram was arrested on the complaint filed by a teenage girl from Shahajahanpur of Uttar Pradesh, who was studying at the godman's ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. The victim had alleged that Asaram had called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013. Asaram was arrested from Indore and brought to Jodhpur on 1 September 2013. He is in judicial custody since September 2, 2013.
The trial of the case had begun in the district and session court on March 19, 2017, which had been shifted to the special court for SC/ST Cases on December 16, 2016.