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NEW DELHI: The district and sessions court in Jodhpur in Rajasthan on Saturday extended the judicial remand of rape accused godman Asaram Bapu and his three associates till November 6.
Police, who were to file the chargesheet against the accused on Saturday, were also given time till November 6 to file it by the court.
The 72-year-old godman has been locked up in Jodhpur Central Jail since September 2 for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl in his ashram near Jodhpur in August.
The minor was a student at the Gurukul (school) run by him at Chhindwada in Madhya Pradesh.
The girl, who had fallen ill, was reportedly told by the keepers of the school that she is under the influence of spirits and needs to go to Asaram Bapu in Jodhpur where he would perform a special ritual for her health in an isolated place. When her family took the girl to Asaram Bapu out of reverence for the godman, he allegedly raped her on the night of August 15.
Emboldened by the godman’s exposure, two married sisters from Surat in Gujarat registered cases of rape against the godman and his son Narayan Sai on October 5.
According to their FIR, the elder sister says she was sexually exploited by Asaram Bapu between 1997 and 2006 at his Ahmedabad ashram. The younger sister says she was sexually exploited by the godman’s son Narayan Sai between 2002 and 2005 at their Surat ashram.
Narayan Sai has been on the run since the FIR was filed.
Godman Asaram Bapu and his son could be charged with running sex rackets from their ashrams under Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code.
According to Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code,“Buying or disposing of any person as a slave — Whoever imports, exports, removes, buys, sells or disposes of any person as a slave, or accepts, receives or detains against his will any person as a slave, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
However, according to Section 370, if the trafficking offence involves a minor, jail term shall not be less than ten years and may even extend to life term.
If godman Asaram Bapu and his three aides – Shilpa, Shila and Prakash – are charged under Section 370 and found guilty, they face life behind bars.
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