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Asaram Bapu: a verdict is expected in a trial against a Hindu guru

Asaram Bapu, who is revered by millions as a living saint, was charged in September 2013 with the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl, sparking violent clashes between his supporters and the police in several major cities.

Police have been on high alert in three Indian states before the verdict on Wednesday, amid the threat of further violence.

The three states, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana, are home to a large number of devotees from Asaram.

Special prohibition orders have already been issued in Jodhpur, where the court of first instance will issue its verdict, with the Supreme Court of Rajasthan imposing Section 144, which prohibits the meeting of more than four people in an area, until the April 30th.

Security has also been intensified around the victim's house in Uttar Pradesh

. Asaram's spokesperson, Neelam Dubey, has refuted suggestions that the guru's followers plan to protest the verdict.

"What kind of protest?" said Dubey. "We fully respect the courts, if the verdict of the lower court is not our way, we will approach the Supreme Court or the Supreme Court."

Since his imprisonment, Asaram, 77, has had several requests for bail rejected.

The greatest security has echoes of last year's trial of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, head of the spiritual sect Dera Sacha Sauda, ​​who was found guilty of raping two of his followers in a high profile trial in the At least 36 people were killed and hundreds wounded after the riots that broke out as a result of the verdict.
Asaram, who is described on his website as a "spiritual revolutionary" and "great teacher," is one of India's leading spiritual gurus.

Known simply as "Bapuji" or "father" among his followers, Asaram stood out for the first time in the 1970s. In subsequent decades, he has built a vast religious empire that includes 400 ashrams, or religious schools, in all of India, as well as numerous programs of global reach.

It's not just a case

Asaram, who faces charges of trafficking, rape and sexual crimes against children, could face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Prosecutors allege that Asaram sexually assaulted a 16-year-old follower during a religious ceremony to cure her of evil spirits, held at his ashram or religious center in the village of Manai, near Jodhpur, on August 15, 2013

The girl had been taken to Asaram by her parents, although they were not present during the alleged assault.

Asaram, who was 74 at the time of the alleged incident, has denied the allegations, alleging that he was physically incapable of being raped, but police argued that the medical evidence found him in good shape.

Asaram is legal The team has questioned the age of the girl, claiming that she was not a minor and that she had repeated the seventh grade.

  & # 39; Ask your children & # 39; says Indian PM Modi amid indignation for ongoing rape

"As far as our legal views are concerned, we have tried our best level." The girl who was called as innocent was above 18. They have not provided documentation like a birth certificate, "said Dubey.

In October 2013, the High Court of Rajasthan in Jodhpur dismissed the claims, indicating several school certificates that listed its date of birth on July 4, 1997.

Spiritual icon

Asaram's sentence follows a series of particularly brutal rape cases in India, including two alleged attacks unrelated to girls aged 16 and 8.

The consequences of the cases have put pressure on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose opponents accuse of defending the men involved in both attacks.

Modi has since defended the actions of his government and described the issue of sexual violence as "a matter of great concern for the country."
  Violation of cases of spark movement of political protest in India

Reaction to The recent cases, which thousands of people have seen taking to the streets in protest, have been compared to the national protest for the 2012 group rape of 23-year-old physiotherapist Jyoti Singh, who died after the injuries sustained in the attack.

Jyoti Singh, who died later The wounds suffered in the attack were known as Nirbhaya, which means "intrepid" in Hindi.

A little more than a week after his death, Asaram landed in a controversy when he accused Nirbhaya of being partially responsible for the assault.

Speaking In the wake of the attack, Asaram was quoted as saying that "the victim is as guilty as his rapists." Adding that "It takes two sides to make a mistake".

Around 100 sexual assaults are reported to the police in India every day, according to the National Office of Criminal Records. There were about 39,000 alleged attacks in 2016, an increase of 12% in the previous year.

Edwin Thomas of CNN contributed the reports.


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