Former Gujarat top cop DG Vanzara came out in defence of Asaram after the self-styled godman was convicted and handed a life term by a Jodhpur court in a 2013 rape case involving a minor, on Wednesday.

Earlier, a Jodhpur court sentenced the self-styled godman Asaram to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl at his Ashram in 2013.

Vanzara, who was accused of fake encounters during his stint as a police officer, stated that it was improper to dub Asaram a “rapist”. “It is improper to dub Asaram as rapist after being convicted in a sexual assault case,” said Vanzara.

“In the FIR lodged by the victim or in the chargesheet filed, nowhere does it say that she was raped. What it says is that he tried to touch her improperly,” he said. According to Vanzara, the victim never stated that she had been raped even during the trial.

“The victim said that Asaram had touched her with bad intent, which is also a crime. But I doubt whether Asaramji did so. He has been convicted in this matter but decision of any court is not final,” Vanzara added.

“We respect this decision but will go to the higher court against it. We believe that we will get justice,” he said.

Vanzara said that the case against Asaram was a conspiracy, as the 77-year-old godman was a “protector of the sanatan Hindu dharma”.

The survivor, who was a Class 12 student at Asaram’s Chhindwara Ashram in Madhya Pradesh, was raped in August 2013.

Following complaints about her sickness while in Chhindwara, the godman had summoned the girl and her family to his ashram in Manai village on the outskirts of Jodhpur in Rajasthan.

According to the victim’s complaint, she was raped by the self-styled godman on the intervening night of August 15-16, 2013.

She reported the matter to her parents, who in turn had filed a zero First Information Report (FIR) with the Kamla Nagar police station in New Delhi on August 20.

Asaram was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He has been in judicial custody since September 2, 2013.

On Wednesday, the jailed godman was convicted under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act and the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act.

Special Judge (SC/ST court) Madhusudhan Sharma delivered the verdict on the Jodhpur Central jail premises.

Asaram’s co-accused, Shilpi and Sharad Chandra, were awarded 20 years each by the court, while two others, Prakash and Shiva, were acquitted.

The verdict was delivered in the Jodhpur Central Jail as per orders of the Rajasthan High Court. Section 144 has been imposed in the city, preventing assembly of more than four people.