Home Global Village Unholy Godmen: Asaram Babu rape conviction highlights abuse of religious sentiments

Unholy Godmen: Asaram Babu rape conviction highlights abuse of religious sentiments

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News Analysis |

An Indian court has found Asaram Bapu, a spiritual leader who has founded hundreds of ashrams in India, guilty of raping a teenage girl and sentenced him to life in prison. The much-watched case has prompted worries about possible reprisals from the guru’s followers.

Asaram has denied the charges and he plans to appeal, according to a special notice on his organization’s website. The guru is in his late 70s. The case against him stems from 2013 when he was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting the girl, who was then 16. He has been jailed since then, with courts refusing multiple attempts at bail.

It is apparent that the misuse and perversion of the teachings of the beautiful and peaceful faith of Hinduism is leading to appalling crimes against the women of India, both Hindu and Non-Hindu.

The teen’s parents had been followers of the guru; they brought her to one of his ashrams to receive spiritual instruction — but instead, he forced her into sexual acts, a court in Jodhpur, in the western state of Rajasthan, said on Wednesday. After the girl told her parents what had happened, they contacted authorities.

“I am happy to get justice … We had complete faith in the judiciary and are happy that we got justice,” said the father of the rape survivor on Wednesday, while police were deployed to ensure the family’s safety ahead of the ruling.

Read more: Deepika Rajawat: The lone fighter standing firm against Hindutva in Asifa…

Asaram is the second high-profile guru who has recently been felled by rape charges. Last summer, spiritual leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Sing — the “Guru of Bling” — was convicted of rape. That verdict brought violent protests from the guru’s followers in two states, Haryana and Punjab, resulting in a military curfew.

Born Asumal Harpalani, Asaram became a guru in the 1960s. His website claims that at the time of his arrest, he had at least 40 million followers. Asaram began opening ashrams in the early 1970s. In addition to hundreds of those facilities, he owns two magazines, according to the DNA India website.

The guru is in his late 70s. The case against him stems from 2013 when he was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting the girl, who was then 16. He has been jailed since then, with courts refusing multiple attempts at bail.

Both Asaram and his son are also named in at least two other rape cases. Those separate accusations were lodged by two sisters who live in the state of Gujarat and say they were repeatedly sexually assaulted in incidents that date from a little more than 10 years ago. Asaram’s followers have said that the charges against him are part of an attack on Hindu culture.

Disturbing thoughts of the so-called Holy man were presented during his trial. Asaram believed that sexual exploitation of girls is not a sin for ‘Brahmgyani’ or a highly enlightened person, a prosecution witness had deposed to the court during the trial. Rahul K Sachar, an Asaram’s follower, was close to Asaram and had access to his ‘kutia’ or abode, deposed that he had seen Asaram molesting girls in his ashrams in 2003 in Pushkar (Rajasthan), Bhiwani (Haryana) and Ahmedabad (Gujarat).

For this purpose, he used to give signals to three girls, who used to stay with him, by throwing torchlight. On getting the ‘signal’, the girls used to take the targeted girls to his room in Kutia. He used to roam around the ashram with the three girls for selecting the targeted girls, said Sachar.

Read more: Hindu group disrupts Muslim prayers in a viral video

One evening in Ahmedabad, Sachar deposed, he climbed the wall of the ‘kutia’ and saw the godman molesting the girl. He then wrote a letter questioning why he was doing this to girls and handed over the letter to the cook. Asaram read the letter but ignored it. The follower sent a second letter to Asaram, but he chose not to respond to it, following which he forcefully entered the ‘kutia’ and asked why Bapu was quiet on his questions.

The response of Asaram was, “‘Brahmgiani ko ye sab karne se paap nahi lagta.’ (It’s not a sin for a ‘Brahmgyani’ or a highly enlightened person to do so). When he posed the second question how a ‘Bhramgyani’ can have such desires, Asaram quietly went inside and asked his men and guards to throw the follower out of the ‘kutia.’

The Bakarwal people are a Muslim minority living in a Hindu-dominated Kathua district. The fact that Asifa was held in a Hindu temple increased the communal tension it generated.

Another rape case that has rocked India has been that of the Kathua rape case. The Kathua rape case refers to the abduction, rape, and murder of an 8-year-old girl, Asifa Bano, in Rasana village near Kathua in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in January 2018.

The charge sheet filed by the police stated that the abduction of the victim was planned in an attempt to get personal revenge by the accused, as well as to intimidate the Bakarwal community into moving out of the area. The Bakarwal people are a Muslim minority living in a Hindu-dominated Kathua district. The fact that Asifa was held in a Hindu temple increased the communal tension it generated.

Read more: Hindutva-wadi caught dressed in a Burqa attempting to incite a riot

Ostensibly such an unspeakable act has its root in the Hindutva thought promoted by RSS and other Hindu extremists. One of the founding fathers, Veer Savarkar propounded the rape and kidnap of “the womenfolk of the enemy” as a religious duty by quoting the archdemon of Hindu mythology, Ravan and castigated Hindu historical heroes for their chivalry towards captive female enemies.

It is apparent that the misuse and perversion of the teachings of the beautiful and peaceful faith of Hinduism is leading to appalling crimes against the women of India, both Hindu and Non-Hindu.


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