The Surat Police arrested Jain religious leader, Shantisagar Maharaj of the Digambar sect, for allegedly raping a 19-year-old girl in the Gujarat city, The Times of India reported on Sunday.
On October 1, the girl, her brother and parents had gone to seek his blessings, when the monk allegedly convinced them to stay back so that mantras can be chanted, a police officer was quoted as saying. “Then he allegedly took the girl to another room, on the pretext of performing puja and raped her.”
The family currently lives in Vadodara, but they are from Madhya Pradesh, the police said, adding that they accepted him as their religious leader in March. The girl was initially afraid of complaining, but a First Information Report was filed after 11 days, the police said, adding that she was sent to a government hospital for a check-up. Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma said, “We have filed an FIR based on the girl’s complaint. The medical report confirms the girl was raped.”
Surat Zone 4 Deputy commissioner of Police Vidhi Chaudhari said, “We have discovered evidence that the girl was raped and based on that, we will be investigating.”
Shantisagar Maharaj took a “vow of silence” on Saturday after he found out that a case has been registered. Thousands of Jains gathered outside the police station on Saturday alleging that the rape complaint was a ploy being used to defame their religious leader.
This arrest comes in the wake of several religious leaders being arrested for rape and sexual assault. On September 23, Kaushlendra Prapanacharya Phalahari Maharaj from Alwar was arrested for raping 21-year-old woman, while Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced to 20 years in prison in August for raping two women.