Asaram convicted: Management of post-verdict situation starkly different from handling of Ram Rahim judgment in Panchkula

A Jodhpur court convicted self-styled godman Asaram on Wednesday for raping a minor in 2013. Apart from Asaram, the court convicted two of his aides, and acquitted two other accused. Drawing from past experience of violence during Ram Rahim's verdict in Panchkula, the Centre had asked Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana governments to tighten security and deploy additional forces as the three states have a large number of followers of  77-year-old Asaram.

In August 2017, Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted in a rape case, over 15 years after an anonymous sexual exploitation complaint was filed against him. The verdict had led to widespread violence as thousands of the self-styled godman's followers went on a rampage, setting vehicles, buildings and railways stations ablaze in parts of Haryana and Punjab. The violence led to the death of total 38 people.

There was a marked difference, however, in the atmosphere in Jodhpur on Wednesday. Reports said that even though Asaram's followers had gathered in Jodhpur ahead of the sentencing, no major incidents of violence were reported. In an official communication, the Union Home Ministry told the three states to beef up security and ensure that no violence takes place after the judgment in Asaram's case. Security was beefed up in Jodhpur on Tuesday, where prohibitory orders were already clamped ahead of Wednesday's trial court verdict.

Asaram convicted: Management of post-verdict situation starkly different from handling of Ram Rahim judgment in Panchkula

Security force deployed outside Jodhpur Central Jail ahead of the court's verdict on Asaram's sexual assault case, on Tuesday. PTI

Last year, seconds after Ram Rahim was held guilty in rape case by the Panchkula CBI court, his followers present outside the court scrambled throughout the city and took to arson and indulged in violent activities. Flabbergasted, the Haryana Police had to seek assistance from the Indian Army  to curb the volatile situation.

In Jodhpur, however, the situation so far has remained peaceful with no reaction from Asaram's 'upset' followers after the godman, along with two others, were held guilty in the 2012 rape case by the Special SC/ST Court at Jodhpur Central Jail. The police in Jodhpur also appeared to be much more vigilant, combing all hotels and sealing entry, exit points.

Ram Rahim's followers had flouted Section 144 CrPC imposed in Panchkula at the time of his conviction. Locals were forced to remain indoors as thousands of the godman's followers spread out throughout Panchkula.

On the other hand, in Jodhpur, Section 144 of the CrPC was enforced in true spirit with no public movements near the Jodhpur Central Jail premises. Barring media and the posse of police force, nobody was present outside court. Police personnel were present at every 10 metre in Jodhpur.

Ahead of the verdict in Ram Rahim's case, his followers from Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh continued to arrive till the last moment on 24 August and Haryana police was seen making arrangements for them. A senior Haryana minister, Ram Bilas Sharma, even visited Ram Rahim's followers and called to arrange food and water for them.

In Jodhpur, however, police has been scanning Asaram's local ashram for several days and has been taking strict action against anyone trying to break into the city with the intention to disturb law and order. Police have scanned every nook and corner and beefed up security from almost a week in advance and have even issued warnings on its social media platform.

Intelligence in Jodhpur have been successful in removing all suspicious persons from the district as compared to their Panchkula counterpart who were left confused regarding the next course of action. According to News18 reports, unlike the Dera Sacha Sauda leader's verdict, where thousands of supporters slept on pavements, the pro-Asaram group was "conspicuously invisible".

Ram Rahim's supporters were organised and led by wing leaders. In Asaram's case, however, there did not seem to be any central leadership on the ground.

With inputs from Sat Singh, Team 101 reporters

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Updated Date: Apr 25, 2018 14:13:26 IST