For five long years, a 16-year-old girl was subjected to death threats, harassment and social boycott. All this after she accused self-styled godman Asaram Bapu of sexually assaulting her in August 2013.
On April 25, a Jodhpur court sentenced Asaram to life imprisonment and sent two other accused to 20 years in jail. It was a hard-earned victory for the family that has been living in fear of being shot every time the case went to trial for the last five years. After recent threats, the victim’s father pleaded for a gun licence to protect his family that was granted.
“After he (Asaram) was arrested, I thought we would be safe. I even started going for computer coaching classes. But then the threats started and I was asked to study at home,” she told The Indian Express. She opted for “easier subjects” like computers and home science as she had to keep appearing for hearings in Jodhpur.
The girl, who was in her teens back then, had accused Asaram of luring her to his room, in his ashram in Chindwara on the night of August 15, 2013.
Asaram was taken into custody after the teenage girl had filed a complaint against him. The judgment in the case was pronounced inside the Jodhpur Central Jail, keeping in view apprehension of possible violence in Rajasthan and the neighbouring states.
Ahead of the verdict, people were seen offering prayers at the godman’s ashram in Bhopal, Varanasi, Ahmedabad and Ludhiana for his acquittal.