Karnataka Seer Accused Of Sexual Assault Of Minors Sent To 4-day Police Custody

Sharanaru, the chief pontiff of Murugha Math, has been booked under provisions of the POCSO Act and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

lingayat seer sexual assault
Chief pontiff of Murugha Math Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanarubeing taken to hospital for health check up, in Chitradurga, Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Lingayat seer Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, arrested last night in a case of sexual assault of minors, was sent to four-day police custody on Friday. Sharanaru, the chief pontiff of Murugha Math, has been booked under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on the basis of complaints on behalf of two school girls.

The seer, who had complained of health issues, appeared in the court wrapped in a white cloth around his saffron attire and was taken in on a wheelchair.

The seer was reportedly questioned for several hours after his arrest on Thursday night. Following which he complained of chest pain in jail. He was taken to the Chitradurga district hospital where an electrocardiogram and other medical tests were conducted.

Two heart specialists were also called in from neighbouring Davangere. After examining his condition, the doctors decided to shift him to Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research in Bengaluru, a district health officer told reporters.

Sharanaru was produced before a local court after his arrest that remanded him to 14 days’ judicial custody, Chitradurga Superintendent of Police K Parashuram said. “After the order, he was taken to the hospital for medical examination and later sent to the jail,” he said.

The 64-year-old pontiff of one of the most prominent and influential Lingayat Maths in the State was questioned at an undisclosed location by Deputy Superintendent of Police Anil Kumar, said an investigating officer.

Along with the pontiff, four others have been booked with one person working at the ‘Santvana Kendra’ (counselling centre by the Directorate of Women and Child Development Department), while another one has been arrested. Two others are still at large, search is on, police sources said.

The two high school girls, aged 15 and 16, study in a school run by the Math and were residing in a hostel belonging to the monastery. The girls have alleged that they were sexually abused. They reached out to an NGO working for sexually exploited women and children, ‘Odanadi Seva Samsthe’, which raised the issue to the district children’s welfare committee.

(With PTI inputs)