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India’s self-styled godman found guilty of raping minor girl

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JODHPUR — India’s self-styled godman Asaram Bapu was found guilty in a 2013 rape case by Jodhpur Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Court, on Wednesday.

The Jodhpur Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Court, in a much-awaited verdict on Wednesday convicted Asaram Bapu and two others accused of raping a teenager in Manai village near Jodhpur at his ashram in 2013.

Asaram’s spokesperson Neelam Dubey said they will talk to their legal team and decide future course of action.

“We will discuss with our legal team and then decide our future course of action. We have confidence in our judiciary,” Dubey said.

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Earlier in the day, people were seen offering prayers at the godman’s ashram in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal, Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi, Gujarat’s Ahmedabad and Punjab’s Ludhiana for his acquittal.

A follower of Asaram even reached the jail with a garland in the morning. He, however, was detained by police.

The 77-year-old Asaram was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on 1 September, 2013. He is under judicial custody since 2 September, 2013. The chargesheet against Asaram and four other co-accused Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash was filed by the police on 6 November, 2013 under various sections of the POSCO Act, Juvenile Justice Act and IPC.

The judgement in the case was pronounced inside the Jodhpur Central Jail, keeping in view the law and order in situation in Rajasthan and neighbouring states.

Asaram is also facing a trial in Gujarat for raping two Surat-based sisters. His son, Narayan Sai, is also an accused in the case.

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167 people killed in India monsoon floods

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NEW DELHI — At least 167 people have been killed and more than one lakh people forced to live in relief camps across the Indian state of Kerala after monsoon floods badly hit the state.

While torrential rains, overflowing rivers and a series of landslips have cut off vast swathes of land in the state, the Kochi International Airport has been shut till Aug 26 and Southern Railway and Kochi Metro have suspended their operations.

Tens of thousands of people in the state have been stranded by extensive flooding as the death toll from the torrential monsoon continues to climb, according to officials.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said 167 people have died in the state — more than 100 of them in the last 36 hours — and issued a fresh rain alert for the battered state.

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Rescue efforts have been progressing on a war footing and Mr Vijayan’s office said he had spoken to PM Modi again this morning. Four aircraft and three Coast Guard ships have been brought in to rescue people marooned in areas cut off by vast stretches of water.

The state’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Twitter that 25 boats with members of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were sent to Pathanamthitta, central Kerala, and all the boats, including fishing boats, would be used to expedite rescue operations in flooded areas.

he further warned of a grimmer situation as more rain has been forecast till Saturday. “The Centre has sanctioned more men and material,” Vijayan said after a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Central leaders.

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