Jaipur, April 25: A special SC/ST court in Jodhpur, Rajasthan convicted self-proclaimed godman Asaram Bapu in a sexual assault case against him on Wednesday. The godman, who is currently lodged in Jodhpur Central Jail, is convicted of raping a 16-year-old minor from Uttar Pradesh's Shahjahanpur in 2013.
Ahead of the judgement, the entire city of Jodhpur was turned into a fortress to avoid any untoward incidents by the followers of Asaram, who is also a billionaire. As the godman boasts of a huge following, security has been tightened in Gujarat, Haryana and other parts of Rajasthan.
The verdict has come at a time when the nation is shocked over an alarming spike in rape cases, especially of minor girls.
After the judgement, the father of Shahjahanpur victim said, "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."
"The court is yet to set a date for deciding on the quantum of sentence for Asaram. He faces a minimum sentence of ten years in jail and a maximum of life imprisonment under the stringent sections of a law on sexual crimes against children. He has reportedly been found guilty of sexual assault, criminal conspiracy, criminal intimidation and illegal confinement of a minor. He can now appeal against his conviction in a higher court," reported The Indian Express.
After the verdict was announced, several media outlets have stopped addressing the convict with his second name "Bapu". In India, Bapu is a revered name as the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, is also known as Bapu. People from all walks of life have been reacting to the judgement and most of them have welcomed the self-styled godman's conviction.
Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot said, "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."
In fact, all the top trends on Twitter were about Asaram and the verdict.
Top Trends. pic.twitter.com/W2YfZhSXQx— Unofficial Sususwamy (@swamv39) April 25, 2018
Here we bring you a few tweets trending on the micro-blogging site:
We can stop calling him "the accused" and start calling him "The Rapist" #AsaramVerdict— Faye DSouza (@fayedsouza) April 25, 2018
This child rapist Asaram is Modi's friend. These are the companies Modi keeps. No wonder he follows abusive people on Twitter.— Sanjukta Basu (@sanjukta) April 25, 2018
Will the new death penalty law apply on Asaram? I hope it does, in these cases i support death penalty #AsaramVerdict
No more an accused, he is now the Child Rapist Asaram— Dhruv Rathee (@dhruv_rathee) April 25, 2018
Big Salute to the nine witnesses who dared to testify against him and were attacked. In last 4 yrs, Three witnesses had been murdered after they spoke against him. May they rest in peace 🙏#AsaramVerdict pic.twitter.com/ZbsB9lK1Zm
Ajay Gautam & Neelam Dubey and all those supporting #AsaramBapu should be asked wht wld hv bn their reaction if this girl who hs bn raped wld hv bn their daughter ? Shame on such criminals with the mask of a religious leader..#AsaramCaseVerdict #AsaramVerdict #AsaramRapeVerdict— Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) April 25, 2018