A seer of a Karnataka-based lingayat seminary was arrested on Thursday night, days after he was accused of sexually assaulting minor girls, PTI reported.

Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the chief pontiff of the Jagadguru Murugarajendra Vidyapeetha Mutt in Chitradurga city, was booked under sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act on August 27 after two school girls alleged that the seer sexually abused them for years during their stay at the seminary hostel.

In their complaints, the girls had told the police that Sharanaru would call them to his chambers on some pretext and sexually assault them. They alleged the seer had been assaulting one of them for the past three-and-a-half years and the other for the past one-and-a-half years.

The charges under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act were added after Dalit organisations protested against the seer, demanding that he be arrested immediately. One of the two girls is a Dalit, according to The Hindu.

Protests were held outside a court where the two girls were brought to record their statement before a district magistrate on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the hearing in the anticipatory bail plea moved by Sharanaru was deferred to September 2 after the counsel representing the two girls sought time to file objections to the application, reported the Deccan Herald.

Sharanaru claimed that the charges against him were part of a big conspiracy.

While several organisations as well as citizens have protested against the seer, Former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has dismissed the allegations. He also called them a conspiracy.

“The truth will come out soon,” he said. “The investigation will reveal that he is innocent. The investigations will also reveal people involved in framing the seer.”

About 20 seers and another group of citizens from different mutts too have expressed their support to Sharanaru.

The matter had come to light after the girls fled the hostel and approached a non-governmental organisation in Mysuru on August 26.

Besides the seer, the complainants have also named Rashmi, a warden of the mutt’s residential wing, Basavaditya, a junior priest at the mutt, lawyer Gangadharayya and a man identified as Paramashivayya in the first information report.