Indian Guru Asaram Convicted Of Rape
An Indian spiritual guru who claims to have millions of followers worldwide has been found guilty of rape.
A court in the northern city of Jodhpur ruled that Asaram Bapu raped a 16-year-old girl in 2013 at his ashram there. He is likely to appeal against the verdict in a higher court.
The guru, who is 77, has 400 ashrams around the world where he teaches meditation and yoga.
He is also on trial in another rape case in Gujarat state.
Jodhpur is on high alert because of concerns there could be violence from the guru’s supporters. The court is expected to announce his sentence later in the day.
Utsav Bains, the victim’s lawyer, told NDTV that he was expecting the court to give Asaram a life sentence.
“But nothing can compensate for the trauma that the victim and the family have gone through,” he said.
The security measures come after followers of another guru, Gurmeet Ram Rahim, ran amok after he was found guilty of rape last year. The resulting violence killed 23 people.
Asaram was arrested in 2013 after a case of sexual assault was filed against him by two of his followers, who alleged that he had assaulted their daughter.
Police say that the couple, who had sent the girl to one of his ashrams for spiritual lessons, were summoned to see her as she was “under the influence of some supernatural ghostly powers”.
They were then told to take their daughter to Jodhpur to meet the guru.
The family reached the Jodhpur ashram on 14 August. The following night, Asaram called the victim to his room on the pretext of “curing” her. He then raped the victim while her parents waited outside chanting his prayers, police say.
Police say the guru forced the victim to perform sexual acts on him and threatened to murder her family if she spoke about the incident.
The victim told her parents what had happened the following day. They tried to confront Asaram, but were refused entry to his ashrams.