Chitradurga police begin probe into POCSO case against seer amid protests

Provisions of prevention of atrocities against SC/ST Act likely to be invoked against seer as one of the victims belongs to Dalit community

August 28, 2022 09:42 pm | Updated August 29, 2022 09:58 am IST - Belagavi

A file photo of the Murugha Mutt.

A file photo of the Murugha Mutt.

A day after the Mysuru police registered a case under POCSO Act against Chitradurga-based Murugha Mutt seer Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru for alleged sexual abuse of minor girls, the Chitradurga police began investigation as the case was transferred to this town.

The town witnessed a series of protests seeking justice for both the seer and the victims amidst a possibility of the provisions of the prevention of atrocities against SC/STs Act likely to be invoked against the seer as one of the victims belongs to the Scheduled Caste.

The two girl victims, who made the charges, reached Chitradurga on Saturday night. They were placed in the district Bala Mandira and brought to the child welfare committee. Their statement was recorded before the child welfare committee and the district police from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. A medical examination of victims was conducted at the district hospital. Then they were taken to the Bala Mandira again.

The police said that a team of officers reached the mutt hostel for the spot mahajar on Sunday morning. In all likelihood, the five accused, including the seer, will be issued notices to depose before the police on Monday. “Based on evidences available, the investigation officers will take a call on arresting the accused,” a police officer said.

“Meanwhile, investigating officers have found out that one of the victims belongs to Dalit communities. This fact has come to light on Sunday. Provisions of the prevention of atrocities against SC/STs are likely to be invoked against the seer,’’ police officers said. However, till late on Sunday, the FIR against the seer had not been revised.

The Chitradurga police have registered a complaint against S.K. Basavarajan, former MLA and administrator of the mutt, on charges of kidnapping the complainant girls and of trying to sexually assault a woman warden of the mutt hostel.

The city witnessed two protests. One group that included some seers and politicians, that said that allegations against the seer were false and baseless and that he should not be arrested. Another team held a protest before the child welfare committee demanding a fair and transparent probe. Some of the protesters demanded a judicial probe into the issue, saying they had no faith in the local police. They shouted slogans supporting the victims, and said that they would stand by them. They urged them to tell the truth before investigators.

Meanwhile, the seer has responded to the allegations saying that they were part of a “big conspiracy” against him.

Some people shared an audio clip purportedly containing the voices of the seer and some of his confidantes. In the clip, the seer reportedly says that he was ready for a conciliation or a trial. He suspected that some adversaries from inside the mutt had conspired against him. “Some people tend to believe that roll call and blackmail are the methods to gain power. Such people are behind this,’’ he said according to the audio clip.

“Time will decide everything. Even great personalities like Gandhi and Basavanna have faced serious challenges. Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross, for saying good things and for trying to change the society. But bad people, those who acted against religious rituals have never been treated like this. I am happy that my supporters are with me in these trying times,’’ he said.

Mutt sources said that they were preparing a legal response to the allegations. Applications for anticipatory bail are being prepared by the accused. A lawyer, who is related to both the seer and the administrator, is looking into the issue, a mutt officer said.

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