Asaram Bapu, said the 23-year-old victim was as guilty as her rapists, saying she should have been more friendly to her attackers so they would spare her life. The six alleged attackers appear in court today, Monday, January 7, 2013, to face charges of murder, rape and abduction, and could possibly face the death penalty. The suspects have been identified as Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur, and a sixth suspect is 17, and will be tried in a youth court of law.
According to the article in the Daily Mail, Bapu, 71, said, " The victim is as guilty as her rapists. She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop," adding, "This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don't think so."
Jyoti Singh Pandey and her male friend were held on a bus in New Delhi by the alleged attackers, both were beaten, and Jyoti was gang-raped by all the attackers and also violated with an iron bar. They were thrown out of the bus naked and left for dead. According to her male friend, Awindra Pandey, the police took at least two hours to get them medical attention. Jyoti was eventually taken to a hospital in Singapore to undergo extensive surgery, but did not survive. She died December 29, 2012.
Her attacks have caused both women and men in India to launch huge protests calling for changes in laws and attitudes towards women in the country. In this environment, Bapu's statements were met with fury.
Response to Bapu's comments was swift and furious from politicians and citizens alike.
Sandeep Dikshit, from the ruling Congress party, said, "Such comments should be condemned as much as possible," and many Indians took to social media to express themselves. @SahilBulla tweeted: "Dear Asaram Bapu, one hand can never clap but one finger can easily show you what we think of you."
Leader of a social activist group, Sanjay Gadhvi said of Bapu's comments, "We demand that Asaram apologise to the women of the country and urge him to take back his words."
A spokesman for the guru denied that he had been insensitive about Jyoti's death, but added: 'If she would have taken God's name or recited a mantra God inside her might have suggested her to how to avoid such crimes.'
Bapu has been in the media limelight before, being currently investigated for the death of two young boys who died in his ashram. The boys' parents blame the guru directly. In addition, Bapu was accused of attempted murder in 2009, allegedly hiring a hitman to shoot a former devotee.
Jyoti's father released his daughter's name shortly after her death, saying he wanted the world to know who she was and remember her.
'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.'