Thursday, April 26, 2018

Asaram Bapu & the importance of blacklisting fake babas

Today morning I heard the news that Asaram Bapu got sentenced to life imprisonment by the Indian Court system for finding him guilty of raping a 16 year old girl in 2013. Asaram Bapu is the same criminal guru who had said that the 2012 Delhi gang rape victim, Nirbhaya, could have avoided being raped and killed had she addressed "the culprits as brothers and begged before them to stop."

I am delighted that the criminal Asaram Bapu was convicted and given the highest possible sentence possible for the crime. The court specifically ordered against giving him any respite, meaning that he will have to serve his life sentence until his death. Criminals should be prosecuted in the toughest way possible, irrespective of their religious and political affiliations. I think that the conviction of Asaram Bapu is a victory of the Indian judicial system, because it demonstrates that it doesn't get easily influenced by pressure groups. More importantly, this is a triumph for the courageous girl, her family and everyone else who fought hard against the criminal baba.

I realize that some of the readers of my post may come from families who once trusted and followed the disgraced guru. When the allegations surfaced for the first time, they may have even doubted the rape victim. And this is understandable, because unfortunately false rape allegations do happen in this world. Also, when we don't have access to all the relevant facts of the case, it is sensible to give the benefit-of-doubt to the person whom we have trusted and respected for a long time. However, we should definitely stop supporting a person once the impartial court system has found him guilty. Thankfully, I haven't seen a single Indian, including the Hindus, expressing dissatisfaction with respect to the court's verdict (except the culprit's lawyer, of course). 

According to me, the Hindus have always been pretty good at denouncing unscrupulous babas, probably because the traditions of Hinduism have always emphasized individual seeking over collectivistic conformity. That is the reason there is no punishment for apostasy in Hinduism. And that is also the reason why Hindus may find it easier to speak up against a religious leader whom they suspect to be corrupt. However, the human psyche is weak, so the temptation to find succour in charismatic cult leaders is always there. Last year the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP), an apex organisation of Hindu Sants (saints) and Sadhus (ascetics) in India took a step in this regard by publishing a list of fake babas in India. Specifically, they blacklisted 17 fake babas, including Asaram Bapu. I hope ABAP continues publishing such lists every year to make sure that innocent people don't fall victim to the traps of these monsters.

Some of the fake babas who have been blacklisted
However, what should not be done is the shaming of the followers of these babas, because except for a few core members, the majority of the followers of these babas are innocent people who are completely oblivious of their misdeeds. I think even most politicians who share stage with these babas are likely to be unaware of their criminal activities. That is the reason I don't blame either the Congress, National Conference, or BJP politicians who in the past had shared stage with Asaram Bapu. Unfortunately, leftist media personalities, such as Vinod Dua, only highlighted the BJP politicians who had shared the stage with Asaram Bapu. Further in the same video commentary,  Vinod Dua attempts to create the false impression that sexual abuse happens only within the Hindu religious organizations, although again, this should not be surprising given the strong leftist bias of our media houses. But that is a topic for another discussion.

...To be continued.

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