NEW DELHI, APR 24,
The Centre on April 24 asked Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana to tighten security and deploy additional forces ahead of the verdict by a Jodhpur court in a rape case against self-styled godman Asaram, an official said.
In a communication, the Home Ministry told the three States to beef up security and ensure that no violence takes place after the verdict. The three States were also told to deploy additional forces in sensitive places, the Home Ministry official said. Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana have large number of followers of Asaram.
A court in Jodhpur is set to pronounce its verdict in the rape case against Asaram on April 25. Earlier this month, Judge Madhu Sudan Sharma of the Jodhpur court heard the final arguments from the prosecution and defence counsel and reserved the order for April 25. As per the directions of the Rajasthan High Court, the trial court will deliver its verdict in the case in Jodhpur Central Jail premises.
Asaram is accused of raping a teenage girl from Shahajahanpur of Uttar Pradesh, who was studying at his ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. The victim had alleged that Asaram had called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013.
The Home Ministery advisory has been sent in view of the fact that large-scale violence was witnessed in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh after a special court pronounced its verdict in a rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim in 2017. Asaram, in jail since August 31, 2013, was charged under relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. If convicted, he could be jailed for a maximum of 10 years.
A charge sheet against Asaram and four other co-accused namely Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash had been filed by the police on November 6, 2013 under various sections of the POCSO Act, Juvenile Justice Act and IPC.
Trial of the case began in the district and session court on March 19, 2017, which was shifted to the special court for SC/ST Cases on December 16, 2016.
He is also facing a rape case in Gujarat.
Earlier, the apex court had refused to grant bail to Asaram on various grounds in the two sexual assault cases lodged in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Two Surat-based sisters had lodged separate complaints against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape and illegal confinement, among other charges.
In all, Asaram has unsuccessfuly moved 12 bail applications, of which six were rejected by trial court, three by the Rajasthan High Court and three by the Supreme Court.
Security stepped up around victim’s house
Meanwhile, the district administration in Shahjahanpur has stepped up security around the house of the victim.
“The security of the victim’s family is continuously being monitored… Two more constables will stand guard outside her house in addition to the five policemen alrady deployed there and a strict vigil is being maintained on all the visitors using CCTV cameras,” Superintendent of Police K.B. Singh told PTI on April 24.
Vigil was also being kept on Asaram’s ashram at Rudrapur in Shahjahanpur, he said.
NEW DELHI, APR 24,