Asaram convicted: sentenced to life time imprisonment until death

Asaram convicted: sentenced to life time imprisonment until death

Asaram convicted: sentenced to life time imprisonment until death

Followers of Asaram and his son Narayan Sai were accused of threatening people who testified against the "guru".

Special judge Madhusudan Sharma's verdict, which comes as the debate over sexual violence, particularly the rape of minors, intensifies across the country, was read out in the Jodhpur Central Jail where 77-year-old Asaram Bapu has been kept for over four years. Meanwhile, speaking after court's judgement, Asaram's lawyer said that they will appeal in the High Court.

But he still commands a devoted following and several Indian states were put on high alert and thousands of extra police deployed ahead of his trial, fearing riots if "Bapuji" was found guilty.

The court is expected to announce his sentence later in the day. He is expected to get a prison term of at least 10 years and a maximum of life in prison under the law on sex crimes against children.

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"But nothing can compensate for the trauma that the victim and the family have gone through", he said.

In August last year, another popular and flamboyant Indian spiritual guru, Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of raping two female followers.

India's government last week approved stringent punishments for sexual violence against children, including death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years. She was raped on the night of August 15, 2013. The girl told her her parents about the incident two days after the incident after which they filed a complaint against him in Delhi. As per a short documentary available on his official website, Asaram was born in 1941 as Asumal Sirumalani in Berani village of Sindh province in Pakistan. "The letters stopped only when I shifted to Udaipur", Lamba, now the superintendent of police (anti-corruption bureau) in Jodhpur, told the newspaper.

In 1972, he formed his first ashram on the banks of Sabarmati river in Motera town of Gujarat.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi - who was criticised for a slow response to the protests - has since promised "to hang the people of demonic tendencies who misbehave with daughters".

He also has properties worth millions of dollars across India. He is also accused by the Surat-based victim's younger sister of rape and illegal confinement. The trial in this case is underway.

Nine witnesses who dared to testify against Asaram were attacked, three of them died.

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