Almost four and a half years after Asaram Bapu was arrested for the rape of a teenager, the self-styled godman was found guilty by a Jodhpur Court on Friday along with two others - Shilpi and Sharad -- while Prakash and Shiva were acquitted.
Almost four and a half years after Asaram Bapu was arrested for the rape of a teenager, the self-styled godman was found guilty by a Jodhpur Court on Friday along with two others – Shilpi and Sharad — while Prakash and Shiva were acquitted. 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. Even though Asaram Bapu has been in jail for some time now, there has been no decline in his fortunes.
Even as Asaram braces for a possible legal battle to challenge the life term handed to him for the rape of a 16-year-old girl, the self-styled godman can still give any top businessman a run for his/her money. Within four decades, Asaram has managed to build an empire of Rs 10,000 crore — starting from a humble hut on the banks of the Sabarmati river in the early 70s to over 400 ashrams across the country and the world, revealed a scrutiny of documents seized by the police from Asaram’s ashram in Motera area. Interestingly, his figure doesn’t include the market value of vast tracts of land that he holds.
Asaram Bapu began its journey in 1972 when he set up ‘Moksha Kutir’, a humble hut, on the banks of a river. In the next few years, his popularity increased and that hut converted into a full-fledged Ashram. Within a span of four decades, he added around 400 ashrams in India and abroad. Despite Asaram being jailed, the Motera Ashram is flocked by followers who are still in denial mode and maintain that their ‘guru’ has been jailed on false charges.
However, Asaram’s wealth is still less than Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, another self-styled godman who was jailed last year. According to an RTI filed by Hissar’s Ramesh Sharma, the Dera Sacha Sauda which was led by Ram Rahim had earned 16,52,48,455. In the year 2011-12, it grew to Rs 20,20,99,999. Moreover, in the 2012-13 year, it touched Rs 29,08,18,760.
He owned over 700 acres of agricultural land, a 175-bed hospital, plenty of gas stations, supermarket complexes, and over 250 ashrams around the world.
Moreover, Ram Rahim also enjoyed tax exemption from Income Tax Department under Section 10(23) in The Income Tax Act.1995. Even though there is no official data available, Ram Rahim’s collective wealth when at the time of his arrest could have easily been more than that of Asaram’s.
Asaram had been involved in controversies in the past as well. In 2008, two cousins — Dipesh and Abhishek Vaghela — who used to stay at the Gurukul of Asaram’s Ashram in Motera, were found dead under mysterious circumstances on the riverbed near the ashram in 2008.
In 2009, several of Asaram followers were booked in the case.
In 2013, he was arrested for a minor’s rape in Rajasthan. After this, two Surat-based sisters had come out to speak about their alleged sexual exploitation at the hand of Asaram and his son Narayan Sai. Surat Police had registered complaints filed by two sisters – one against Asaram and another against his son Narayan Sai – of rape, sexual assault, illegal confinement and other charges. The case is going on against Asaram in Gandhinagar court.