Former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Tuesday said that Lingayat seer Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, who has been arrested for alleged sexual assault, has committed an “unpardonable crime”, reported The News Minute.

On August 27, the chief pontiff of the Jagadguru Murugarajendra Vidyapeetha Mutt in Chitradurga city was booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act after two school girls accused him of sexually assaulting them for years during their stay at the seminary hostel. He was arrested on September 1.

“The whole world today knows that he has committed an unforgivable offence,” Yediyurappa said while speaking to the reporters in the Udupi district of Karnataka on Tuesday, reported The Indian Express. “Nobody had expected that he would stoop this low. Everyone should condemn this and he should be punished.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader’s comments came after he had defended the seer when rape charges were levelled against the religious leader in August. “The allegations against the seer are fake,” Yediyurappa had said then. “The investigations will also reveal people involved in framing the seer.”

The seer wields significant influence among the Lingayat community of Karnataka, which goes to polls next year.

Yediyurappa’s comments came a day after the investigation team filed a chargesheet against Sharanaru based on the statements of the victims, reported NDTV. The chargesheet states how the minor girls living in the hostel of Murugha mutt were drugged and abused by the chief pontiff, senior police officials told the news channel.

Last month, the Karnataka Police had filed another case against Sharanaru under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act after parents of two other girls, aged 12 and 14 years, alleged that their daughters were assaulted repeatedly during the coronavirus-induced lockdown in 2020.

He 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.