04:48 GMT +322 October 2019
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    79-Year-Old Controversial Indian Godman Gets Life Term for Raping Minor

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    Anticipating violent protests from Asaram Bapu's followers, estimated in the millions, police personnel have been deployed in large numbers in various states across India.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — A court in India's western state of Rajasthan has sentenced life term to a self-styled religious godman for raping a 16-year-old minor, police said on Wednesday. The special court's decision came five years after the victim filed a complaint alleging that she was raped by Asaram Bapu when she went to his religious retreat seeking relief from evil possession.

    "This is a historic verdict for criminal jurisprudence. The truth has won. It shows that if the law works impartially, even persons from the weakest sections of the society can take on the most influential ones and get justice," Ajay Pal Lamba, the IPS officer who supervised the investigation into the case said. 

    In her complaint, the girl, who belongs to Shahjahanpur of Uttar Pradesh, said that she was asked to perform oral sex and was touched inappropriately.

    The court has also sentenced two of Asaram Bapu's accomplices to twenty years in jail while acquitting two others for lack of evidence.

    The conviction has been made under the section of rape and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act that permits lifetime jail terms for sexual assault on children and was recently amended to allow the death penalty for the rape of girls younger than 12. 

    Meanwhile, security arrangements have been tightened across the country on the direction of the union home ministry to prevent a repeat of the large-scale violence after the conviction of another self-styled godman, Gurmeet Ram Rahim, in a rape case last August.

    Asaram, along with his son, Narayan Sai, are also accused of repeated rape and illegal confinement of two Surat-based sisters, who stayed at Asaram's ashram (religious retreat) in Gujarat between 1997 and 2006. The trial of the case is underway in a separate court.

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    Tags:
    spirituality, religious beliefs, life sentence, guilty plea, crime, rape, Minors, India
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