07:42 EST 7 January 2013
A self-described ‘spiritual guru’ has sparked outrage in India after saying that the 23-year-old rape victim who died after being assaulted by six men was partly responsible for her own attack.
Asaram Bapu said that Jyoti Singh Pandey, whose fate has drawn the sympathy of the world and been treated as a national tragedy within India, was ‘as guilty as her rapists’.
He added that she should have been more friendly to her attackers if she wanted to preserve her own life.
Politicians and web users have reacted with fury to the 71-year-old guru’s comments.
Asaram Bapu’s controversial intervention in the case comes on the day that five of Jyoti’s six alleged attackers appeared in court to face charges of murder, rape and abduction.
A judge ordered that the courtroom should be closed to the public after more than 150 people tried to cram in to a room designed for around 30 during the suspects’ initial hearing.
‘Only five to six people are not the culprits,’ Asaram Bapu said. ‘The victim is as guilty as her rapists.
‘She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop.’
He added: ‘This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don’t think so.’
Leading political figures were quick to condemn the inflammatory comments, which one opposition politician called ‘regrettable, deeply disturbing and painful’.
Sandeep Dikshit, from the ruling Congress party, said, ‘Such comments should be condemned as much as possible,’ while his colleague Rashid Alvi added that religious figures should ‘give serious thought’ before commenting on public affairs.
Controversy: Asaram Bapu has made headlines for outspoken behaviour in the past
Many Indians took to social media to express contempt for Asaram Bapu’s views.
@SahilBulla tweeted: ‘Dear Asaram Bapu, one hand can never clap but one finger can easily show you what we think of you.’
The guru abandoned his family as a young man to live in an ashram and practice meditation, before starting up his own his own ashram in Ahmedabad.
Jyoti Singh Pandey, a trainee physiotherapist, was returning to her Delhi home with a male friend on December 16 when the pair were lured on to a bus being driven by six youths.
They proceeded to gang-rape her and beat both her and her friend, before leaving them for dead at the side of the road.
Jyoti was flown to hospital in Singapore, but died in the early hours of December 29.
Five of the men currently standing trial for her rape and murder could face the death penalty if found guilty, but the other is aged under 18 and cannot therefore receive a sentence of more than three years in prison.
As well as sparking sympathy for Jyoti, the case has led many within India to call for a change to the role of women in society.
While the victim’s name has never been released by officials, Jyoti’s father revealed her identity this weekend, and called for a rural hospital to be renamed in her honour.
The five suspects – named as Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur – were transferred from prison in police vans under heavy armed guard to Saket district court in New Delhi this morning.
There was a strong police presence with numerous officers stationed outside the court – poignantly located opposite the cinema where the victim watched a film with a friend the night of the attack.
A sixth suspect, who is 17, will be tried separately in a youth court.
OUTRAGE OVER SECOND RAPE AND MURDER ‘IGNORED BY POLICE’
Four policemen have been suspended and a fifth transferred over the handling of a suspected new rape and murder case near Delhi.
The father of the alleged victim, a 21-year-old factory worker, said she was gang-raped and killed before being dumped semi-naked in the street.
But he claimed in an interview with the BBC that police had failed to file a report until the family complained.
The woman’s body was found on Saturday after she disappeared on Friday night. Two men have been arrested and a third suspect is reported to have fled.
Her family became alarmed when she failed to return home from her job as a seamstress, but when they told police an officer suggested she had probably eloped with a boyfriend.
The victim’s mother alleges it was only after the neighbours heard of the case and started to protest that the police took an interest.
Three of the policemen were suspended for ‘passing derogatory comments’ and not filing a report immediately after taking the call and starting an investigation.
A further two have been suspended for ‘not patrolling the area where the crime was committed’, a senior official said.
The case has dominated headlines around the world for the last week but a judge today ruled all hearings will be held in private with the media also excluded from proceedings.
The move came after a large gathering of media and members of the public packed out the courtroom, which can seat about 30, but had more than 150 people crammed in.
‘It has become impossible for this court to conduct proceedings in this case,’ magistrate Namrita Aggarwal said, ordering anyone not directly connected to the case to exit.
She ruled all future hearing to also be held in private for the safety of the accused. It is standard practice in India for rape cases to be held in private.
Earlier, an argument broke out in court when a lawyer offered to defend the men after members of the bar association in Saket district, where the case is being heard, vowed not to represent the accused.
Supreme Court lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma was shouted down by colleagues who say the accused do not deserve representation, given the brutality of the crime.
‘We are living in a modern society. We all are educated. Every accused, including those in brutal offences like this, has the legal right to represent his or her case to defend themselves,’ Lal Sharma said.
‘I’m afraid they won’t get justice, that’s why I have decided to appear for them in the court,’ Sharma said, but added it was up for the court to decide.
Two of the accused, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta, moved an application on Saturday requesting they be made ‘approvers’, or informers, against the other accused, a public prosecutor in the case, Rajiv Mohan revealed.
Sharma and Gupta, along with co-accused Mukesh Kumar, Ram Singh and Akshay Thakur, have already been charged with murder, rape and abduction along with other offences.
Prosecutor Mohan, who last week claimed DNA tests confirmed that the blood of the victim matched bloodstains found on the clothes of all the accused, said he was seeking the death sentence given the ‘heinous’ crime.
‘The five accused persons deserve not less than the death penalty,’ he said, echoing public sentiment and calls from the victim’s family.
Police have conducted extensive interrogations and say they have recorded confessions, even though the five have no lawyers.
The opening of the trial comes after the father of Jyoti, a factory employee in the Delhi suburb of Noida, said he wanted ‘the world to know’ his daughter’s name.
He said: ‘I am proud of her. Revealing her name will give courage to other women who have survived these attacks,’ said Mr Singh Pandey. ‘They will find strength from my daughter.’
The brutal attack has caused uproar in India, with mass demonstrations for women’s rights and calls for the six suspects in the case to be hanged.
The distraught father made his comments in an interview with the Sunday People, given from his ancestral village of Billia in Uttar Pradesh, a state in the north of India, where the family has gone to grieve.
‘Death to all six of them,’ he said. ‘These men are beasts. They should be made an example of and that society will not allow such things to happen.’
Miss Singh Pandey was raped after she and a male friend, 28-year-old Awindra Pandey, were lured onto a bus as they travelled home from the cinema, where they had been to see blockbuster Life Of Pi.
In an interview with Hindi TV channel Zee News, Awindra Pandey said the gang of six men aboard the bus – fitted with curtains and tinted windows – had planned to trap them.
Once on the bus, he was attacked and Miss Singh Pandey was gang-raped by a group of allegedly drunk men, including the driver, who also violated her with an iron bar causing immense internal damage that lead to her death, he said.
The man, believed to be the only witness in the case, said he did his best to fight off the attackers.
‘They beat us up, hit us with iron rod, snatched our clothes and belongings and they threw us off the bus on a deserted stretch,’ he said.
‘From where we boarded bus, they moved around for nearly two and a half hours. We were shouting, trying to make people hear us,’ said the 28-year-old, who suffered a broken leg in the attack.
‘But they switched off the lights. We tried to resist them. Even my friend fought with them, she tried to save me.’
Asaram Bapu was born on April 17th, 1941 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asaram_Bapu
April 17th, 1941
4 + 17 +1+9+4+1 = 36 = his life lesson = Going overboard. Going too far. Going way over the line.
April 17th, 1941
4 + 17 +2+0+1+2 = 26 = his personal year (from April 17th, 2012 to April 16th, 2013) = In the news. Making headlines.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
how he obtains/loses his heart’s desire = AU = 13 =
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predictions for the year 2013 are at: