It was after ages that the family of the woman, who was raped by powerful self-styled godman Asaram Bapu over four years back, saw her sleeping peacefully through the night, yesterday. “I thank the Almighty, you have finally done justice and ensured that the ‘dhongi’ (fake) baba is punished,” is how she reacted after the court in Jodhpur sentenced Asaram to a life in prison, the father of the victim told PTI. On the night of August 15, 2013, she was just a teenager when 77-year-old Asaram sexually assaulted her. Since then, each day has been an ordeal. We were having sleepless nights in these over four years and yesterday night we had a sound sleep when we were assured that Asaram cannot harm us any more, the victim’s father said. “She (the victim) embraced her mother in relief and slept peacefully the whole night, which had become something rare for all of us in these tumultuous years,” he added.
The verdict against Asaram did not just brought relief, it has also brought hope for the young woman. “This episode hampered her studies which she can start once again…we will want her to choose her field and will help her get as much education as she wants,” the father said. He expressed confidence that after the Jodhpur court’s sentence, Asaram would not be able to get relief even if he approaches higher courts as it was his family that has the blessings of God and the support of people. He will have to pay for his sins, he emphasised. “I will fight on…I am happy that I have been able to get my daughter justice in my lifetime,” he said.
The victim’s father, however, has one more important thing on his mind. I will try that no one is fooled by such ‘babas’ in the name of religion and beliefs, he said. “People like Asaram should be given punishment which is more stringent than even life term so as to ensure that the honour of no other daughter is violated in future,” he said.
In 2013, the 16-year-old girl from Shahjahanpur was studying at Asaram’s ashram in Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. The teenager had in her complaint said that Asaram had called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013. The charge sheet against Asaram and four other co-accused was filed by the police on November 6, 2013.
The controversial godman was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He was under judicial custody since September 2, 2013. A court in Jodhpur yesterday awarded life sentence to the godman besides awarding 20-years in prison to two others in the case. 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. The self-styled godman also faces a rape case in Surat in Gujarat.