CHANDIGARH /NEW DELHI: As the politicians and activists welcomed the Jodhpur courts verdict awarding self-styled godman Asaram life sentence for raping a teenage girl in his ashram five years ago, Utsav Bains, who represented the victim in court, hailed the resilience of the victim and her father for pursuing the case.
“It’s a day of justice. The girl deserves an award for the courage she has shown. She stood by her testimony in court despite the mounting pressure on her and her family by Asaram’s henchmen,’’ said Bains.
Speaking to The New Indian Express over phone, Bains said, “The family of the girl faced many hardships. They were hounded by Asaram’s supporters to withdraw the case and to change their statements in court. But they stood their ground. The government also let them down as their security cover was reduced when a witness Kripal Singh was killed in Uttar Pradesh, but we moved to Supreme Court and got it restored.’’
“The father of the girl once told me that he was not fighting the case for not just his child but also for other girls who have been victims of Asaram. This despite regular threats. The victim’s father was the devotee of the godman and never expected that he (Asaram) will do such an act with his daughter. His faith in him (Asaram) broke,’’ he said.
“This is a victory for all such victims and a clear message has been sent out to all the perpetrators of such crimes that you cannot escape the wrath of the law. The victim and her father have really been brave and kudos to them,” added Bains.
Meanwhile, Congress veteran Ashok Gehlot, who was Rajasthan chief minister when Asaram Bapu was arrested for the rape, said people should now differentiate between real and fake saints.
“The time has come when people should be able to differentiate between the real saints and the frauds. Such fake godmen create a bad image of the country internationally,” Gehlot, AICC general secretary, told TNIE.
Recalling the tough stand he took in the days preceding Asaram’s arrest as the Godman was elusive, Gehlot said, “The credibility of the government was stake and I just followed the court’s order which was based on prima facie evidence. The law had to take its course. After arresting from Indore, we brought him back in a flight to avoid any ruckus.
”He rubbished Asaram’s claims made earlier that then Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was behind the legal tangles. “Such remarks reflected his madness. The Congress leadership never gets into such issues,” said Gehlot.Seventy-seven-year-old Asaram was booked under POCSOAct and the police had filed an FIR under Sections 342, 376, 354 A, 506, 509/34 of the IPC, Sections 23, 26 of the Juvenile Justice Act and Section 8 of the POCSO Act.