Shivacharya Sharanary: Pocso Case: Karnataka Police Arrest Murugha Mutt Head in Chitradurga

The Chitradurga district police on Thursday night arrested head of the Murugha Mutt, Shivamurthy Shivacharya Sharanary (64), in connection with a case of alleged sexual assault on two minor girls, capping six days of high drama.

The police took custody of the pontiff after he underwent preliminary health checkup. The police were taking him to produce him before a judge as of press time.

The Mysuru police had registered a case on August 26 on the seer under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, along with four others – Shivamurthy Murugha (hostel warden) Akkamahadevi Rashmi (Mutt follower), Parashivaiah Basavaditya (Mutt office bearer) and Gangadharaiah (lawyer), after the two girl students approached Odanadi Seva Samsthe, a Mysuru-based nonprofit.

While the police also arrested hostel warden, and other three accused were said to be absconding, according to the preliminary information.

The Thursday’s police action came about after a local court video recorded the statements of the two minor girls in a closed-door hearing on Tuesday. The two girls who alleged they had been sexually abused by the seer, recorded their statement under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The see had filed an application seeking anticipatory bail in the case. The district and sessions court judge BK Komala, however, posted the case for hearing for September 2, allowing a day’s time for the prosecution to file their objections.

Odanadi Seva Samsthe too has filed an applicaiton opposed the anticipatory bail to the pontiff.

Another local court granted anticipatory bail to former mutt administrator SK Basavarajan and his wife Sowbhagya on Thursday in a case registered by the police based on a complaint by the mutt hostel warden accusing the couple of harassment, wrongful confinement and abduction of the two complainant girls. The followers of Murugha Sharanaru had suspected the couple to be behind what they allege to be a “conspiracy to malign the mutt and its head”.

A crowd of Dalit activists had blocked Deputy Commissioner Kavitha Mannikeri’s car in Chitradurga on Thursday as she stepped out for lunch urging the government to arrest the seer and conduct a fair probe. Sections of Dalit and other organisations too had been staging demonstrations demanding his arrest as one of the two victims belongs to an SC community. The police have also registered a case on the seer under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Murugha Sharanaru heads the powerful Veerashaiva-Lingayat mutt, the chief reason for political parties to tread cautiously and avoid making media statements as the community represents the largest vote bloc, making about 18% of population.

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