JODHPUR: A tight security blanket has been placed in Jodhpur Rajasthan local court as on Wednesday self-styled godman Asaram will be awarded quantum of punishment. He runs 400 ashrams across India, and was guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl five years ago. In view of possible act of vengeance from Asaram's followers, the administration has imposed prohibitory orders to ban large gatherings under Section 144. Worth mentioning here if he convicted, Asaram will face a minimum sentence of 10 years in jail. In the trial cases a series of deaths and attacks on witnesses has been marked. Even police officers who examined the case said they faced constant threats.
Jodhpur police Chief Amandeep Singh noted , "All buses and railway stations are being watched, we are checking all hotels and dharamshalas... the jail where the verdict will be read out is going to be a no man's land. We are not in the mood to tolerate nonsense".
Asaram's Pal Road ashram which is on the outer edge of the city has been evacuated. The Jodhpur Police have also sealed all the entrance points of the city.
The judgment in the case will be announced in the Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram's supporters cannot congregate. The police have provided rigorous security to Judge Madhusudan Sharma, who will deliver the judgment.
Asaram, 77, allegedly raped the girl at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur in August 2013. He has been accused of rape, trafficking, and under a stringent law on sexual crimes against children that could entail a life term if charges are proved.
According to the chargesheet, the cook and warden of the ashram in Chhindwara claimed she was possessed by evil spirits and needed to be exorcised. The long-time devotees of Asaram the parents of the victim girl were took their daughter to the Jodhpur ashram and here Asaram sexually assaulted her.
Asaram also faces another case in Surat, Gujarat. Two sisters have lodged separate complaints against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape and illegal captivity.
Asaram has been in prison since his arrest in 2013. Over the last four years since the trial in progress against him, 9 witnesses in the two cases have been attacked and three of them have taken life.