Karnataka: Lingayat seer booked under POCSO Act again after more girls accuse him of sexual assault
Two minors, aged 12 and 14 years, have accused Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru of assaulting them repeatedly during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown.
The Karnataka Police on Thursday filed a fresh case against Lingayat seer Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru after two minor girls accused him of sexually assaulting them, the Hindustan Times reported.
Sharanaru, the chief pontiff of the Jagadguru Murugarajendra Vidyapeetha Mutt in Chitradurga city, is currently in judicial custody till October 21. He was arrested on September 1 for allegedly sexually abusing two minor girls for years during their stay at the hostel of the seminary.
Parents of two other girls, aged 12 and 14 years, later approached Mysuru-based non-governmental organisation Odanadi alleging that their daughters were assaulted repeatedly during the coronavirus-induced lockdown in 2020. The parents were working with the mutt and their daughters stayed at the hostel managed by the seminary.
The NGO took the minor girls to the Child Welfare Committee, which filed a complaint with the Nazarbad Police in Mysuru, according to the Hindustan Times.
The police on Thursday night registered a first information report against Sharanaru, hostel warden Rashmi, a seer named Basavaraditya and four workers of the seminary based on the complaint.
This is the second case filed against the seer under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act.
The mother of the two girls said that she has been working as a cook for six years at the seminary and used to leave her daughters at the hostel because the family could not afford to educate them.
She alleged that some of those working with Sharanaru had threatened one of the girls to visit the seer in his room.
The seer, who wields considerable influence in the Lingayat community, has also been charged under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act as one of the two girls who first complained against him is from a Dalit community.
He allegedly used to call the girls to his chambers on some pretext and sexually assault them. The complainants have alleged that he 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.