Indian guru accused of raping and blackmailing over 100 women is jailed for life

Indian protestors hold placards during a protest over women safety in India in 2014  (AFP via Getty Images)
Indian protestors hold placards during a protest over women safety in India in 2014 (AFP via Getty Images)

A special court in India sentenced a self-styled godman to 14 years of imprisonment after finding him guilty of raping more than 100 women.

Amarveer, popularly known as “Jalebi baba”, was also awarded a jail term under a law related to the protection of children from sexual offenses, after being found convicted of raping a minor.

The sentences for rape and child abuse will run concurrently, advocate Sanjay Verma, who is the lawyer for the victims told local media, adding that the godman was acquitted in a separate case pertaining to the law on arms and ammunition.

“He has been in jail for the last 4.5 years and will have to stay in jail for nine-and-a-half years. The accused Baba was acquitted in the Arms Act. Other details of the judgment will be revealed after seeing the copy of the order,” he added.

Police in the northern Indian state of Haryana had arrested him from Tohana town in Fatehabad district in 2018 after an informer tipped them off.

The 63-year-old widower, who developed a reputation for being an occultist, used to drug women disciples, rape them and film the act, revealed the investigation.

He used to later blackmail his victims for money by threatening to make the clips public. According to media reports, up to 120 such clips were recovered from his phone.

“It appears the person indulging in sexual activities in these clippings is the same baba, though we will get it examined from the cyber cell,” said a police official at the time, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.

“Two of the victims have already come forward, though, it is yet to be verified whether their videos were also prepared. All video clippings have been prepared with the help of mobile phones.”

This is not the first time a self-styled godman was convicted for sexual abuse.

Religious leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh “Insan” was held guilty on two counts of rape by a special court in Haryana in 2017. His arrest had led to large-scale violent protests and vandalism in parts of India, with over 200,000 people gathering near court premises ahead of his verdict.

The controversial godman had gained a cult-like following and had produced and starred in several music videos and larger-than-life action movies portraying him in a positive light.

Another religious leader, Asaram Bapu, was convicted for raping a minor in 2018 and is currently serving a life sentence.