Godman destined to hell
Divine justice aside, Asaram Bapu should receive the bitter taste of human justice, argues Sushil Kutty
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a sea of swirling plastic waste in the middle of the Pacific, twice the size of Texas and thrice that of France, is difficult to remove. Similarly, the human garbage, trash like self-styled 'godman' Asaram Bapu, is hard to get rid of. But, on April 25, 2018 – Judgement Day – this Bapu of all things bad in man and worse in 'godman', who has lakhs dancing to his tune, stood convicted of rape. He was sentenced to life in jail until death, the quantum of sentence was not quite the quantum of solace he and his supporters expected.
Divine justice will come in time, but, for now, human justice will do – Asaram Bapu is a 'certified rapist', which fits him better than 'convicted rapist' because there is something 'mental' to Asaram – from his Bhagwan Dada dance routine to his miracle-healer boasts. The verdict pronounced in Jodhpur Central Jail, where for two days just a wall separated Asaram from Bollywood superstar and slayer of blackbucks Salman Khan, was cordoned off.
Two of his cohorts and accomplices were let off. And two others went out of the jail gate. That should gall the godman no end. How can a pair of mere mortals get away when God on Earth could not? There must be something truly wrong with this 'godman' analogy? The case that cooked his goose relates to the 2013 rape of a girl, a minor who was pulled out of school and told to serve Asaram in his infamous Kutiya. The girl, now five years older, on Wednesday 'thanked God' for justice done.
The rape survivor's father calls Asaram a Pakhandi and a Dhongi, who is physically fit as a fiddle to get the maximum sentence – 10 years – and mentally cunning like a dyed in wool jackal. The man and his family have been living in the fear of death and the conviction of the devil has not changed that state of mind. Three witnesses in the case have met death and several were "made to disappear".
"This is a verdict in just one case. There are other cases. And there is still the 'family' of Asaram lurking in the vicinity – his son Narayan Sai, his wife and his daughter, all of them aids of the paedophile. He has henchmen at his beck from Panipat to Pune and these Satan's children will go to any extent to silence the voices raised against the Shaitan. They had put a gun to my neck and shot me. A miracle saved me," one of the luckier victims of Asaram's intimidation tactics told the media.
The Dhongi Guru, who uses the crazy Bhagwan Dada-style dance routine to get into the head of devotees, is a master of the possible. He injects himself into minds with an array of gimmicks. To date, 10 attacks have been carried out against those bent on seeing to it that Asaram got his just desserts. A repeat offender, he has been accused of land-grabbing, kidnapping, rape, intimidation and murder. Asaram's trusts ran schools that provided the paedophile children to be molested and raped. It was a cool set-up, till it lasted.
Asaram has busloads of supporters, blind as bats; the number of buses, if they are lined, will occupy hundreds of kilometres of roads. And, there is no shortage of money at his command. He has moneybags lined up to line his pockets, though the outfit he wears has no pockets! Top lawyers of India have defended him in court, including sharp legal minds such as Ram Jethmalani and Salman Khurshid. Yet, there are doubts if the criminal justice system has delivered justice or not, in both camps, pro and con. It is the 'Pandit Lobby' which is mighty p*ssed off with the verdict. In its defence of Asaram's still infallible godhood, standing like a rock, its first reaction was: Hindu Dharam is under attack and this is just another instance of no justice in Kalyug! However, the pandits cannot do much about it except quoting the scriptures, which to their dismay have no verse to defend the perverse. One pandit reluctantly admitted that maybe Asaram's 'sins' in a past life have caught up with him – shattering with that one statement Asaram's claims to godhood!
It is the 'political lobbies' which can make a dent. None of them can risk trashing the verdict. They cannot show their displeasure with the conviction because none of them want to lose the 'perception battle'. Especially in an election year and another to follow, and when 'rape', especially child rape, has the country roiled in outrage, after Kathua and Unnao and a 100 other rape-destinations!
These political lobbies are using the conviction to target political rivals. In the short time since the conviction, the Judge Loya Death has been raked up and linked with the verdict. And, pictures of our Prime Minister with Asaram are doing the social media rounds. So much so that actor Farhan Akhtar tweeted 'Please Stop'. Asaram has been convicted under the POSCO and Juvenile Justice Act and 'guilt by association' is a powerful perception-shaping tool.
'A man is known by the company he keeps' ran the caption to a video – showing PM Narendra Modi with Asaram – tweeted by the Congress Party. The video dates back more than a decade and was tweeted under the Congress twitter handle, which has 4.6 million followers. Politicians are great believers in the vote-catching powers of godmen. There are any number of pictures of Congress leaders also paying homage to Asaram Bapu. One has Digvijay Singh on his knees before the Dhongi Guru! 'A man is known by the company he keeps' is a serpent-skin that fits all. Remember Chandraswami!
None of the political parties has hailed the verdict, lauded the 'success of the criminal justice system' against a 'godman who runs a Rs 10,000 crore empire'. Asaram is not a custodian or repository of Hindu faith. Bringing religion into court is a big 'nada'. The child who was raped is Hindu. The judge who read out the conviction is Hindu. The prosecutor who argued to win is Hindu. So, where is the Muslim in the picture, other than Farhan Akhtar, and, he is not doing somersaults, only correcting a perception?
Expecting mass disturbances following an adverse verdict, security was beefed up in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat. But better sense prevailed and the bigots stayed home, emotions bottled in their gullets. It was the quantum of the sentence which determined the quantum of solace to everyone involved, for or against the Dhongi Baba!
(The views expressed are strictly personal)