Asaram Bapu, 77, has 400 ashrams around the world
A world-renowned Indian spiritual guru who boasts millions of followers across the globe has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the rape of a teenage girl in 2013 according to reports.
Asaram Bapu, 77, has 400 ashrams around the world were he teaches metitaion and yoga.
The verdict of the high profile guru was read outside the prison where he was held in Jodhpur.
There are fears that his followers mat “resort to vilonce” as security is stepped up around the prison.
Bapu is also accised of raping abother woman between 2002 and 2004 as the trial continues.
Al Jazeera reports Security was tight around the prison complex and in states where the guru has a large following.
The trial was the latest in a series of high-profile rape cases in India that have fuelled public protests and raised questions about how police handle the attacks and treat the victims.
Last August, another popular and flamboyant Indian spiritual guru, Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of raping two female followers.
Responding to widespread outrage over the recent rape and killings of young girls and other attacks on children, India’s government last week approved the death penalty for people convicted of raping children under age 12.
Judge Madhusudhan Sharma announced the prison term for Bapu and sentenced two of his associates to 20 years in prison each for helping him in the crime.
The judge convicted Bapu on charges of criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement and rape.
Bapu has denied the charges, and a spokesman, Neelam Dubey, said he would appeal the verdict in a higher court.
The girl in her complaint to police in 2013 accused Bapu of raping her when she visited his retreat in Jodhpur with her mother.
She was 16 at the time. The girl’s family said they had been followers of Bapu for more than a decade.
Bapu has been in prison since his arrest in 2013. He ran more than 230 ashrams with residential schools with millions of followers across India and abroad, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Uganda and Kenya.