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Asaram case verdict tomorrow, MHA asks 3 states to stay alert

April 24, 2018 23:53 IST

Security was stepped up on Tuesday in Jodhpur where prohibitory orders have already been clamped ahead of Wednesday's trial court verdict in the alleged rape of a teenager by self-styled godman Asaram who faces a minimum term of 10 years if convicted.

Apprehending a threat to law and order, the Centre asked Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana governments to tighten security and deploy additional forces as the three states have a large number of followers of 77-year-old Asaram.

In a communication, the Union home ministry told the three states to beef up security and ensure that no violence takes place after the judgment on Wednesday.

 

The three states were also told to deploy additional forces in sensitive places, a home ministry official said.

As per the directions of the Rajasthan high court, the trial court will deliver its verdict in the Jodhpur Central Jail premises where Asaram has been lodged for the past over four years.

"We have made all arrangements for the judgment day," DIG Jail Vikram Singh said.

"The magistrate along with court staff, Asaram and the co-accused along with the defence and prosecution counsels will remain present in the courtroom in the jail premises," he said.

Asaram is accused of raping a teenage girl from Shahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, who was studying at the godman's ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.

Asaram has denied the rape charges. The victim had alleged that Asaram called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013.

"I have full faith in the judiciary and am confident that Asaram will be given the severest form of punishment," said the victim's father.

Security was also stepped up around the victim's house in Shahajahanpur.

"The security for the victim's family is continuously being monitored... Two more constables will stand guard outside her house in addition to the five policemen already deployed there, and a strict vigil is being maintained on all the visitors using CCTV cameras," Superintendent of Police K B Singh told PTI.

A vigil was also being kept outside Asaram's ashram at Rudrapur, he said.

The Union home ministry's advisory was sent in view of the fact that large-scale violence was witnessed in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh after a special court in Mohali convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim last year.

Final arguments in the Asaram case had been completed by the special court for SC/ST cases on April 7 and the court had kept the order reserved for April 25.

Asaram was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He is under judicial custody since September 2, 2013.

The chargesheet against Asaram and four other co-accused Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash was filed by the police on November 6, 2013 under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, Juvenile Justice Act and the Indian Penal Code.

If convicted, Asaram could be jailed for a minimum of 10 years or awarded a maximum life term, according to prosecution lawyers. Asaram is also facing a rape case in Surat in Gujarat in which the Supreme Court earlier this month gave five weeks time to the prosecution to complete the trial.

"We have imposed section 144 of CrPC in the city from April 21 and it would remain effective till April 30. Besides this, we have been keeping a sharp eye on Asaram's ashrams and checking all hotels and guest houses as well as the bus and railway stations," DCP (East) Aman Deep Singh said in Jodhpur.

"We will also seal the jail on the day of judgment and would not allow anyone to get close to the jail premises," he said.

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.

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