The verdict for self-made godman Asaram Bapu rape case dating 2013, given by the Jodhpur District Court on Wednesday convicted the 79-year-old godman as guilty as charged and handed imprisonment till natural death for raping a minor in one of his ashrams in Rajasthan. This verdict matters, it sets an example and it promotes the victims of such crimes to report them to the police with an assurance that they will be granted justice.

There is a plethora of rape cases being reported across India since past few months – which is good and bad at the same time. Bad, because the number of rape and sexual abuse cases have not increased, it is just that the number of such cases has increased; so far thousands of such crimes were never reported, never investigated into and just lived with by victims. Crimes not being reported is one of the most gruesome occurrence for a nation – it shows disbelief of citizens in the authorities, the sluggish and corrupt administration and the fear of social stigma. But it is good that the country has finally embraced and decided to fight against crime and for justice by reporting them to the police – to begin with.

On Wednesday, the Jodhpur Court unanimously handed life imprisonment to 79-year-old Asaram, a self-styled godman, for raping a minor girl at his ashram in Rajasthan in 2013 – under the POCSO Act and the ST/SC (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The conviction and sentencing of adequate punishment to a socially, politically and economically powerful man such as Asaram should give out strong messages. The conviction will set an example that the processing of reported crimes will be made as needed, regardless of who the accused is and who the victim is. It proves that law is law and all are equal in the eyes of the Constitution of India and the Indian judiciary system. This conviction will encourage victims of any crime case to trust in the authorities and report crimes instead of just letting them bury under social atrocities.

The conviction will also prove to be a warning to those who use their powerful positions to harass and intimidate others. It will also be a warning to common man that if the powerful people can be convicted on committing crimes, nobody can be spared. The very important and the much-needed lesson every individual will learn from conviction of such “personalities and public figures” is that it will change their thinking that they can indulge in illegal activities and get away with it. This might be the start of the social awakening movement in India, to stop abusing women, oppressing the weak and the minorities. It is high-time to act against rapes in India, and conviction of Asaram, Nirmal Baba, Rampal and Ram Rahim Singh is a start of a better society.

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