AIDWA Statement on Conviction of Asaram
April 26, 2018
AIDWA welcomes the verdict of the Jodhpur court in the case against Asumal Harpalani, the self-styled godman “Asaram Bapu,” in which he has been convicted and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life. It is noteworthy that the trial court found him guilty on many counts, including the heinous crime of having raped a minor in his ashram, and awarded the maximum punishment available under the POCSO Act. Two other accused have received sentences of 20 years each.
The verdict comes at the end of a long drawn out fight for justice by the survivor and her family. Over the past five years, since the 16 year old girl filed the case against the self-styled godman in August 2013, she and her family members have been subjected to threats and coercion of every kind. The girl has been forced to live with police protection, fearing for her life and she and her siblings have suffered severe educational and social setbacks. Asaram applied for bail 12 times, but his application was rejected each time. Witnesses in the case have been attacked, and three of them were killed in a cold-blooded attempt to destroy evidence and intimidate the complainant and witnesses. AIDWA lauds the determination and courage displayed by the girl, her family, and their supporters, despite the trauma and suffering that they have undergone.
The AIDWA Uttar Pradesh State Committee was associated with the case from the beginning and has been in regular contact with victim and her family. AIDWA also assisted the Complainant in filing appropriate applications and contesting Asaram’s bail application in the Supreme Court. AIDWA demands that the survivor, her family, and witnesses continue to receive protection, as Asaram supporters are still accusing them of a conspiracy. At the same time, efforts should be taken to ensure to rehabilitate the girl and her family so that they can lead a normal life.
It has appeared in the news that Appeals will be filed by Asaram’s trust against the verdict, as also against the acquittal of two aides. There are also several other cases pending against the godman and his aides. AIDWA demands that, in the interest of justice, the appeals and remaining cases be expedited and Asaram be brought to justice in toto.
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