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Asaram found guilty of rape, two co-accused convicted

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Jodhpur: Self-styled godman Asaram was today found guilty of raping a teenager near here five years ago by a Jodhpur court.

Judge Madhusudhan Sharma of the court of SC/ST cases also convicted two other accused Shilpi and Sharad while two others Prakash and Shiva were acquitted.

Further details are awaited.

The counsels for the accused are arguing on the quantum of sentence.

As per the directions of the Rajasthan High Court, the trial court delivered its verdict in the Jodhpur Central Jail premises where the 77-year-old Asaram has been lodged for the past over four years.

The victim had said in her complaint that Asaram called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013.

The teenager from Shahajanpur in Uttar Pradesh was studying at the self-styled godman’s ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.

Ahead of the verdict, security was stepped up in Jodhpur where prohibitory orders have been clamped.

Apprehending a threat to law and order, the Centre had asked Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana governments to tighten security and deploy additional forces as the three states have a large number of followers of Asaram.

In a communication, the Union Home Ministry had told the three states to beef up security and ensure that no violence takes place after the judgment tomorrow. The three states were also told to deploy additional forces in sensitive places, a Home Ministry official said.

The Union Home Ministry’s advisory was sent in view of the fact that large-scale violence was witnessed in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh after a special court in Mohali convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim last year.

Final arguments in the Asaram case had been completed by the special court for SC/ST cases 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 is under judicial custody since September 2, 2013.

The chargesheet against Asaram and four other co-accused Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash was filed by the police on November 6, 2013 under various sections of the POSCO Act, Juvenile Justice Act and IPC.

Asaram is also facing a rape case in Surat in Gujarat in which the Supreme Court earlier this month gave five weeks time to the prosecution to complete the trial.

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. (PTI)

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