Karnataka: Police Detain Chief Seer of Lingayat Mutt for Alleged Sexual Abuse of Minors
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New Delhi: Police have detained and started investigation against a Chitradurga-based prominent Lingayat mutt seer Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru on Monday for alleged sexual abuse of minor girls, according to reports. The Mysuru police registered a case under the POCSO Act against the Murugha Mutt seer on Sunday.
The case has been registered at the Nazarbad Police Station in Mysuru, based on a complaint by an officer of the District Child Protection Unit, The Hindu reported. The warden of a hostel run by the mutt was among the five accused, police sources told PTI. The seer was detained after the case was transferred to the Chitradurga police.
The police said the complaint is based on the statement of the two girls who accused the seer of 'sexually abusing' them for nearly couple of years now and others of allegedly cooperating with the act, PTI reported.
The girls reportedly approached the 'Odanadi Seva Samsthe', a Mysuru-based NGO, and narrated their ordeal during counselling on Friday night. Following this, the organisation approached the authorities.
The two girl victims then reached Chitradurga on Saturday night and were placed in the district Bala Mandira and brought to the child welfare committee. Their statement was recorded before the child welfare committee and the district police, following which a medical examination was conducted on them at the district hospital.
According to the police complaint, the girls are aged 15 and 16 and were staying at the hostel run by the Murugha Mutt. The two were sexually abused for over three-and-a-half-years, as per an India Today report.
The Chitradurga police have also registered a complaint against S K Basavarajan, former MLA and administrator of the mutt, on charges of kidnapping the victims and trying to sexually assault a woman warden of the said hostel, The Hindu reported.
The case against S K Basavarajan was registered by the warden of Muruga Mutt at Chitradurga rural police station under IPC Sec 354(A),504,506,363, & u/s 120(B), India Today reported. The warden alleged that the two minor girls from the Muruga Mutt hostel were kidnapped and later found at Cottonpet Police Station in Bengaluru. She alleged that Basavarajan has been accused of sexually abusing the children and the warden from the day he took over as administrator of the Muruga Mutt.
Protests in City
The city saw two different protests seeking justice for the seer and the victims, according to The Hindu's report. While one group comprising some seers and politicians protested the seer's arrest and claimed that allegations against him were false and baseless, the other group of protesters held a demonstration before the child welfare committee and demanded a fair and transparent probe. Some protesters belonging to the latter group also demanded a judicial probe into the case citing a lack of confidence in the local police.
There is a possibility of the provisions of the Prevention of Atrocities against SC/STs Act being invoked against the seer because one of the victims is from the Scheduled Caste.
Meanwhile, Murugha Sharanaru has responded to the allegations claiming they were a part of a “big conspiracy” against him, according to The Hindu.
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