An Indian guru with millions of followers was found guilty Wednesday of raping a teenage devotee on the pretext of ridding her of evil spirits, and sentenced to a life in prison.
The judgment was pronounced by Special Judge for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe cases, Madhu Sudan Sharma, inside the Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram Bapu is lodged.
Asaram Bapu, 77, who leads hundreds of ashrams in India and overseas, was convicted at a closed jailhouse court hearing in Jodhpur, in western Rajasthan state where hundreds of police stood guard Wednesday.
The judgment came amid tight security as the threat of violence by Asaram's followers loomed. The principal of the school where Asaram's victim studied also spoke of the pressure he faced from Asaram's followers to change the child's date of birth to help the godman evade punishment under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act."But society has a lot of faith in schools and it was my moral duty to live up to it and I fulfilled my responsibility," he added.