Ahmedabad: Former Gujarat top cop D.G. Vanzara came out in defence of Asaram Bapu after the self-styled godman was convicted and handed a life term in jail in a 2013 rape case of a minor by a Jodhpur court in Rajasthan on Wednesday. The former Deputy Inspector-General of Gujarat, who was allegedly involved in fake encounter cases, stated that it was improper to dub Asaram a “rapist”.
“We respect the judgment and are not contesting or supporting any action proven in a court of law. However, it is improper to dub Asaram as rapist for being convicted in the sexual assault case,” said Vanzara, who arrived at Asaram’s Ahmedabad-based ashram after the Jodhpur SC/ST Court Judge Madhusudan Sharma pronounced the verdict.
Vanzara said: “In the FIR lodged by the victim or in the chargesheet filed, nowhere does it say that she was raped. What it says is that he tried to touch her improperly,” said Vanzara. According to Vanzara the victim never stated that she had been raped even during the trial
Her virginity was found to be intact when medical tests were carried out after the complaint. This was never a case of rape. The sentence is not based on rape committed.” “The victim said that Bapuji had touched her with bad intent, which is also a crime. But I doubt whether Asaramji did so. He has been convicted in this matter but decision of any court is not final,” Vanzara added.
“We respect this decision but will go to the higher court against it. We believe that we will get justice,” he said. Vanzara, in the past too, had claimed that the case against Asaram Bapu was a frame-up. “Being a police officer, I know that the entire case against Asaram Bapu is a frame up. The FIR against him is fake,” he had said in 2016.
Vanzara said that the case against Asaram was a conspiracy, as the 77-year-old godman was a “protector of the Sanatan Hindu dharma”. The survivor, who was a Class 12 student at Asaram Bapu’s Chhindwara Ashram in Madhya Pradesh, was raped in August 2013.
Following complaints about her sickness while in Chhindwara, the godman had summoned the girl and her family to his ashram in Manai village on the outskirts of Jodhpur in Rajasthan. According to the victim’s complaint, she was raped for an hour by the godman on the intervening night of August 15-16, 2013.
She reported the matter to her parents, who in turn had filed a zero First Information Report (FIR) with the Kamla Nagar police station in New Delhi on August 20.
Asaram Bapu was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He has been in judicial custody since September 2, 2013.
The godman was convicted on Wednesday under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act and the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act. Two co-accused were also convicted in the case. The police chargesheet against Asaram Bapu and four other co-accused Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash was filed on November 6, 2013, under the Pocso Act, the JJ Act and the IPC.
Informed sources said the court also convicted Shilpi (warden of Asaram’s ashram) and Sharad, while Shiva and Prakash were acquitted in the case. Asaram Bapu is facing trial in another sexual assault case in Gujarat.