Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, chief pontiff of Jagadguru Murugarajendra Vidyapeetha Mutt in Karnataka’s Chitradurga, was arrested by the Karnataka police on the night of September 1. The seer was on Friday sent to 14-day judicial custody in the case of sexual assault of minor girls. Police will seek remand in open court today.
“The chief pontiff of Sri Murugha Mutt, Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, has been accused of sexually assaulting minors. He has been arrested,” said Alok Kumar, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Law and Order, Karnataka.
He was booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) for allegedly sexually assaulting minor girls. He was taken to a government hospital in Chitradurga for a medical check-up. Earlier, the District Sessions Court in Chitradurga adjourned the anticipatory bail petition of the chief pontiff of the Murugha Mutt.
Chitradurga SP Parashurama K said, “The second accused in the case is being questioned. She is in our custody. There is no political pressure on us. After the medical checkup, we will present the seer before the magistrate.”
A rape case was filed against Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru by the Mysuru city police after a complaint was filed on behalf of two minors by a child welfare committee on August 26. As per the complaint, two girls, aged 15 and 16, studying at the school run by the Mutt, were sexually abused for over three-and-a-half years by the seer.
Lahar Singh Siroya, BJP MP in the Rajya Sabha, said, “This is an extremely shocking and sad development. As a society, we owe it to ourselves that these allegations are probed thoroughly and impartially. The Karnataka government and all political parties have to ensure that there are no pulls, pressures, politics and interference in this case. The girls deserve nothing but justice. The transfer of the case outside Karnataka should also be considered.”
Karnataka minister V Somanna said, “Let the police investigate the case and let the truth come out.”
Rahul Gandhi had visited Mutt
The Murugha Mutt is also known to be an influential institution with a long list of politicians visiting regularly. Earlier this month, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited the Mutt in Chitradurga along with party leaders DK Shivakumar and KC Venugopal. The pontiff also gave Gandhi the ‘Lingadeekshe’, which is an official ceremony inviting a person into the Lingayat sect.