Dalit organisations staged a protest in Karnataka’s Chitradurga on Tuesday, demanding the immediate arrest of Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the chief pontiff of Murugha Math, who has been booked under the POCSO Act for alleged sexual abuse of high school girls, even as some seers came out in his support.
Meanwhile, the two girls appeared before a local court to record their statements.
They appeared before the Second JMFC Court, along with some authorities amid security, and their statements were recorded under CrPC 164, official sources said.
Dalit organisations staged a protest raising slogans demanding justice, and called the seer, a “sexual abuser”.
“If some common man is accused in a rape case, police wouldn’t have let him out even for a single day, but because this Swamiji is influential, he has still not been arrested. He should have been arrested immediately. No action is being taken against him, he is not even being questioned,” District President of ‘Dalita Horata Sameeti’ Ravi said.
“As (one of) the victim(s) is a Dalit, an atrocity case has also been booked. If he is not arrested immediately Dalit organisations will stage protests across the state,” he added.
Meanwhile, several seers claiming to be pontiffs of branch or subordinate maths of Murugha math, coming out in support of their chief pontiff, expressed hope he will come out clean and truth will prevail.
“All the shakha mathadeeshas of Murugha maths, pontiffs of various communities and all devotees are with the seer in his fight. Many senior pontiffs of prominent maths have also expressed their support, truth will prevail,” they said.
“Children are like god, we have affection for them, but in this case investigation is happening and truth will come out,” one of the seers said, but none of them were in a position to respond when asked how they can have concern for victim girls, when they were coming out in support of the accused. They tried to leave the press conference mid-way.
Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru on Monday claimed that the allegations were part of a long-drawn conspiracy against him, indicated an inside job, and vowed to come out clean in the case.
The chief pontiff of one of the Lingayat seminaries in the state, the seer also said he was law-abiding and would cooperate with the investigation.
The Mysuru city police on Saturday filed an FIR against the seer under the Protection of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and certain sections of the Indian Penal Code for the alleged sexual abuse.
The FIR was registered against a total of five people, including the warden of the monastery’s hostel, based on the complaint by an officer of the District Child Protection Unit.
Two girls had approached a non-governmental organisation in Mysuru and narrated the alleged abuse following which it contacted the authorities and the case was registered by the police. It was subsequently shifted to Chitradurga, the place of occurrence of the alleged chime.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)