Asaram, originally named Asumal, rose to prominence as a self-proclaimed spiritual guru with millions of followers in India and abroad. However, his reputation took a drastic turn when he was accused of rape in 2013 by a 16-year-old girl who had been a student at his ashram near Jodhpur. The subsequent trial, marked by shocking witness attacks and disappearances, captivated the nation’s attention. At the center of the legal battle stood Advocate Poonam Chand Solanki, popularly known as PC Solanki, the lawyer representing the victim. Let’s delve into the intriguing story that unfolded during Asaram’s trial and the unwavering determination of PC Solanki to seek justice.
After migrating from Pakistan’s Sindh to Gujarat following Partition, Asaram’s father settled in Ajmer, where a young Asumal grew up in poverty. His early days were spent ferrying pilgrims to the Ajmer Sharif dargah on a tonga, a horse-drawn carriage. Asaram’s charisma and unique amenities, including cushioned seats in his tonga, set him apart from his fellow tongawalas. In 1971, he embarked on his spiritual journey, eventually building an empire of ashrams and amassing a large following of devoted disciples. However, allegations of sexual assault and impropriety marred his reputation and led to the seismic trial that would follow.
The 2013 Rape Case:
The shocking 2013 rape case brought Asaram’s misdeeds to the forefront. The 16-year-old victim accused him of sexually assaulting her during a ritual intended to “cure her of evil.” She alleged that he had touched her inappropriately and coerced her into performing oral sex. Asaram’s arrest in response to the complaint filed by the victim’s parents marked a turning point in his life.
The Trial and Witness Attacks:
Following his arrest, Asaram faced trial, and in 2018, he was sentenced to life imprisonment by the sessions court in Gandhinagar. Throughout the trial, numerous key witnesses went missing or were targeted in attacks. The Godman’s doctor, Amrut Prajapat, his cook, Akhil Gupta, and witness Kripal Singh were tragically shot dead. However, two witnesses, Mahendra Chawala and Rahul Sachan, miraculously survived an attack on the premises of the Jodhpur court in 2015. These incidents raised concerns about the safety of those involved in the case and the lengths to which powerful individuals were willing to go to silence the truth.
PC Solanki: A Fighter for Justice:
Amidst the chaos and intimidation, Advocate Poonam Chand Solanki emerged as a beacon of hope for the victim and her family. Born to a former railway mechanic in Jodhpur, Solanki overcame financial limitations to pursue his education and become a member of the bar in 1996. When approached by the minor’s parents in 2014, he fearlessly took up the case against Asaram, pitting himself against prominent lawyers on the defense team.
Solanki’s unwavering dedication to the pursuit of justice was evident from the beginning. Despite being offered vast sums of money to withdraw from the case and facing threats, he remained resolute in his commitment to his client. Recognizing the financial constraints of the victim’s family, Solanki made a remarkable decision not to charge them any legal fees.
The trial of Asaram and the subsequent conviction sent shockwaves through the country. It shed light on the dark