Six women have alleged they were repeatedly exploited by Laxman Mane between 2003-10

Marathi writer and social activist Laxman Mane was sent to three days of police custody on Tuesday. Six women have filed complaints against Mr. Mane, accusing him of raping them repeatedly between 2003 and 2010.

Mr. Mane is a winner of the Sahitya Akademi and Padmashree awards.

Mr. Mane had been absconding since March 5, when two women had lodged the first complaint. They alleged that they were sexually exploited by Mr. Mane — who is the working president of Sharadabai Pawar Ashramshala in Satara — under the pretext of getting them permanent jobs and even threatening them to transfer.

Following the first complaint, two other women came forward on March 27 and filed similar complaints against the writer. Another was registered on April 5, by a former cook of the Ashramshala.

Probed

Satara Superintendent of Police K.M.M. Prasanna had formed four teams to investigate and search Mr. Mane, who is considered to be very close to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

Mr. Pawar’s daughter and MP Supriya Sule is one of the trustees of the Ashramshala, which is a residential school for underprivileged students in Satara.

Mr. Pawar, three days ago, had appealed to Mr. Mane to surrender to the police following which he did so on Monday. However, he was shifted to the hospital on Tuesday morning after he complained of chest pain and was kept in Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

“The court asked for his physical presence and we have to present him in front of the court. He has been sent to police custody till April 12,” Mr. Prasanna told The Hindu, adding that the police not under any political pressure and would submit the facts of the case to the court.

Claim to fame

Mr. Mane, belonging to a nomadic tribe, is a well known social activist who shot to fame after with autobiography Upara, which was about the problems nomadic tribes suffered due to their social and economic conditions.

Women’s organisations across Maharashtra have asked Mr. Mane to face the legal procedure. “It is likely that these women from oppressed social classes had to face the atrocities to keep their jobs. Their complaints need to be investigated,” said Stree Mukti Andolan Sampark Samiti, an umbrella body of about 11 women organisations, in a press note.