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#India – Asaram Bapu charged with rape, human trafficking

TNN | Nov 7, 2013

JODHPUR: The Jodhpur police on Wednesday filed chargesheet against Asaram Bapu and four co-accused in the sexual exploitation case of a minor girl at his Manai ashram here after an investigation that continued for 77 days. The 1,011-page chargesheet containing 121 documents and statements of 58 witnesses was filed in the district and sessions court.

The chargesheet accuses of rape, sexual harassment, outraging the modesty of woman,human trafficking and criminal intimidation apart from various other offences under Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, which, if proved, will attract a punishment of a minimum of 10 years of imprisonment to a maximum of life imprisonment.

The four co-accused include Sanchita Gupta alias Shilpi, caretaker of Chhindwara gurukul, Sawaram Hethwaria alias Shiva, an attendant of Asram; Prakash Diwedi personal cook of Asaram and Sharat Chandra, director of Chindwara gurukul.

“Charges against Asaram include Section 342 (wrongful confinement), 354 A (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 370 (4) (buying or disposing of any person as a slave), 376 (2) f, 376 D (intercourse after confinement), 506 (criminal intimidation), 509/34 (insulting the modesty of a woman) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of IPC, Section 23 (cruelty to juvenile or child) and 26 (exploitation of juvenile) of Juvenile Justice Act and Section 5(f)/6, 5(g)/6 and 7/8 of POCSO Act. The charges on all the four co-accused include all charges under which Asaram has been framed except those under Section 9/120 (B) of IPC and Section 7/8 read with Section 17 of POCSO Act,” said prosecution counsel Pradhyumn Singh.

The chargesheet says that the girl was continuously facing dizziness but except a normal eye check she was never subjected a detailed medical check up during her stay at Chhindwara gurukul in Madhya Pradesh. Instead, she was subjected to a series of classes of chanting mantras and yagnas and finally convinced to go to Jodhpur to meet Asaram citing that her problem was linked to the possession of ‘evil spirits’.

The chargesheet mentions that the girl was surreptitiously slipped into the dark hut of Asaram at Manai where he was already lodged. There he asked her to surrender herself for the ashram.

“He then stripped himself and tried to strip her also and followed it by molesting her by touching her,” the chargesheet reads. According to the chargesheet, the physical ordeal went on for about an hour-and-a-half after which the girl was sent out of the hut and threatened not to disclose anything to anyone.

According to the counsel of the victim, Manish Vyas, provisions to append any fresh evidence, if found by police during the course of trial, has been kept open. “The police moved an application under Section 173 (8) of CrPC to this effect,” he said.

After filing chargesheet, the court extended the judicial custody of all the accused till November 16.

Defence counsel Pradeep Choudhary said that the arguments on the cognizance of offence will take place on November 16, after which the charges will be read out to the accused.

Asaram, however, has termed the entire case against him as “fabricated”. He told media persons while coming out of the court that he has been framed. He was seen continuously speaking to Shilpi in the court.

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