Asaram, one of India's most followed 'godmen' was on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2013 Rape Case of a 16-year old girl at Asaram's Jodhpur Ashram. The court has convicted Asaram on charges of raping a minor girl, wrongful confinement, criminal intimidation, criminal conspiracy and sexual harassment. The court also convicted two of his aides who have been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Asaram 's journey from a runaway teen to a spiritual guru with more than twenty million followers is nothing short of extraordinary.
The self-styled godman built an empire of Rs 10,000 crore within four decades, starting from a humble hut on the banks of the Sabarmati River in the early 1970s to more than 400 monasteries across the country and the world.
The documents seized by the police from Asaram's monastery in Motera revealed that the 77-year-old had amassed a wealth of around Rs. 10,000 crore which is excluding the vast tracts of land he owns.
Apart from the Jodhpur Rape case, Asaram, one of the most followed gurus of India, has been accused of many other crimes like land grabbing and even murder.
Born Asumal Sirumalani in Sindh, now a part of Pakistan in 1941, he and his family moved to Ahmedabad following the partition in 1947. After doing some odd jobs during his early youth, Asumal embarked on a spiritual quest towards the Himalayas where he met his Guru, Lilashah Bapu. It was Lilashash who gave him the name 'Asaram' and commanded him to 'carve his own path and command people'.
Asaram came to Ahmedabad in the early 1970s and started doing penance on the banks of Sabarmati River. Over the years, his popularity started soaring high and from humble beginnings, he went on to build a business empire worth Rs 10,000 crore.
Asaram ran into troubled waters for the first time in 2008, when two boys, who used to stay at Asaram's residential school in Motera were found dead under mysterious circumstances on the riverbed near the monastery. Massive protests had followed and the parents and relatives of the two boys, accused Asaram and his monastery of practicing black magic rituals. In 2009, the CID had registered a case against seven followers of Asaram Bapu under charges of culpable homicide.
However, his real fall started in 2013, after he was arrested for a minor's rape in his Jodhpur ashram premises.
Less than two months after Asaram was arrested in the Jodhpur case, two sisters from Surat accused him and his son Narayan Sai of rape. Narayan Sai was arrested by the police in December 2013.The case is going on against Asaram in Gandhinagar High court.
Asaram was also accused of land grabbing and building his monasteries in Surat and Ahmedabad. Adding to his misery, his followers were held for threatening and assaulting witnesses in rape cases against him and his son after they were arrested.
(With inputs from PTI)