New Delhi: Lingayat seer Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, accused of sexually assaulting minors, was arrested by police in Karnataka’s Chitradurga on Thursday night. He will be taken for medical tests and presented before the judge before a formal arrest is made, police said.
Sharanaru, the chief pontiff of Murugha Math, one of the Lingayat seminaries in the state, has been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). He has been accused of assaulting girl students at the institution run by the Murugha mutt.
Earlier, the Mysuru police registered an FIR against him following complaints on behalf of two girls, aged 15 and 16. The girl students, who were staying at the hostel under the Murugha Mutt, were sexually abused for over three-and-a-half-years.
The girls were studying at the school run by the mutt. 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.
Apart from the seer, four others, including the warden of the institution, have been booked by police.
The students of Murugha Math were shifted to the government hostel here after the case was registered against the chief pontiff. Many parents too took their children home after the controversy broke out and the seer was booked.
The pontiff was also charged under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on Tuesday as one of the survivors is a Dalit girl, sources in police department said.
The case under the SC/ST Act was registered after Dalit organisations staged a protest on Tuesday, demanding the immediate arrest of Sharanaru, they said.