The sentence of life imprisonment till death handed. down to Asaram should help renew our faith in the justice system.
The sentence of life imprisonment till death handed. down to Asaram should help renew our faith in the justice system. No matter how well connected such an influential person with a following in society may be, he must be pronounced guilty of a terrible crime against a woman or child if the evidence adds up for conviction. It’s a sign of the clout of those held guilty and of the principal figure in this sordid drama that three witnesses were killed, others attacked and many, including police officers involved in the investigation, intimidated. Not only the justice system but the very foundation of criminal investigation was under threat when up against people of this kind who were always ready to go to any extent to “fix” their case. Two such trials in such depraved crimes like those of Asaram in Rajasthan and Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in Haryana are a victory for the forces of justice.
It’s a sad comment on our society that people should show such blind faith in these self-styled “godmen” who misuse the power of religion to hook devotees while preying upon their susceptibilities and doubts. Not all religious seers and gurus, however, should be lumped together in this category in a land that lays so much store by spiritualism. Such extreme cases of trickery and outright deception are exceptions, but they throw light on how easily the gullible are herded into cults in their search for answers that are hard to find. The very belief that learned guides can show us the way is challenged by such frauds. But then the so-called godman’s background and the manner of his grand ashram aggrandisement should have served as warning signs, more as the history of faith in godmen in India has been pockmarked with suspicions of devious behaviour that is rather more temporal than spiritual.
The verdict is also important in today’s circumstances where the safety of women and children in India are under intense scrutiny and a matter of public debate in light of the increasing cases of sexual crimes against children. Life terms, even death if warranted as per the new ordinance, should prove a frightful enough prospect to put off those with evil designs. The political patronage that people like Asaram and Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh picked up must be blamed on politicians in search of captive votebanks. But there’s little merit in the war that political parties are waging by showing up the proximity of others to the “godman” — as he was not a known sexual offender when he was attracting his “clientele” and leaders. These are silly political diversions detracting from the basic lesson that religion should be kept separate from politics. The fact is that there’s too much politics in religion, and too little of religious virtues in politics.