Self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, who has been accused of raping a 16-year-old girl five years ago, on Tuesday appealed to his followers to maintain 'peace and harmony', a day before the verdict in Jodhpur. A statement issued by Sant Sri Asaramji Ashram Trust in Delhi urged his followers to exercise restraint and do nothing that creates an obstacle in the process of justice. It further said that any person who indulges in anarchy cannot be a devotee of Asaram.
Meanwhile, security has been stepped up and prohibitory orders issued in the city ahead of the trial court verdict in the rape case tomorrow (April 25). As per the directions of the Rajasthan High Court, the trial court will deliver its verdict in the case in Jodhpur Central Jail premises. Apprehending a threat to law and order from followers of Asaram, the police have imposed prohibitory orders.
"We have made all arrangements for the judgement day. Magistrate along with court staff, Asaram and co-accused along with the defence and prosecution counsels will remain present in the courtroom in jail premises", DIG, Jail, Vikram Singh said.
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. A charge sheet against Asaram and 4 other co-accused namely Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash had been filed by the police on November 6, 2013, under various sections of the POSCO Act, Juvenile Justice Act and IPC.
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.
"We have imposed section 144 of CrPC in the city from April 21 and would remain effective till April 30. Besides this, we have been keeping a sharp eye on ashrams of Asaram in the city and checking all hotels and guest houses as well as the bus and railway station," DCP (East) Aman Deep Singh said.
"We will also seal the jail on the day of judgment and would not allow anyone to get close to jail premises", Singh said.
Asaram has unsuccessfully moved 12 bail applications, of which 6 were rejected by the trial court, 3 by the Rajasthan high court and 3 by the Supreme Court.
OneIndia News with PTI inputs