CHITRADURGA (KARNATAKA): Chief pontiff of Murugha Math Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru was arrested for alleged sexual abuse of high school girls and sent to judicial custody for 14 days, police said.
He was taken into custody by the police following an interrogation, sources said soon after the arrest on Thursday, adding that due procedures were followed later in the night.
The pontiff of one of the most prominent and influential Lingayat seminaries in the state was then questioned at an undisclosed location by Deputy Superintendent of Police Anil Kumar, the investigation officer in the case.
He was later taken to the district hospital for a medical checkup, and subsequently, produced before the first additional district and sessions judge at her residence.
The judge remanded the seer to 14 days’ judicial custody, following which he was sent to the district prison, Chitradurga Superintendent Of Police Parasuram said.
Earlier on Thursday, the anticipatory bail plea moved by the seer was adjourned to September 2 by a local court here.
The Mysuru city police had filed an FIR against the seer under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and certain sections of the Indian Penal Code for the alleged sexual abuse.
The FIR was registered against five people, including the warden of the monastery’s hostel, based on the complaint by an officer of the District Child Protection Unit. Police questioned the warden on Thursday.
Two girls had approached a non-governmental organisation in Mysuru and narrated the alleged abuse, following which it approached the authorities and the case was registered by the police. The case was subsequently shifted to Chitradurga, as it was the place of occurrence of the alleged crime.
The seer was booked under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act as well, as one of the victims belongs to the SC community.
The seer had earlier claimed the allegations against him were part of a long-drawn conspiracy and that he was law-abiding and would cooperate in the probe.
There have been protests demanding the seer’s arrest.
The police have made elaborate security arrangements in Chitradurga in the wake of the arrest.
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