K'taka: Mutt pontiff sent to judicial custody in sexual assault case

The Karnataka Police on Thursday arrested Sharanaru for the alleged sexual assault of two minor girls.
Sri Murugha Math seer Sri Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru (File Photo)
Sri Murugha Math seer Sri Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru (File Photo)ANI

CHITRADURGA: The chief pontiff of Sri Murugha Mutt, Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru was on Friday sent to 14-day judicial custody in the case of sexual assault of minor girls. He was brought to Chitradurga district jail. Police will seek police remand in open court today.

The Karnataka Police on Thursday arrested Sharanaru for the alleged sexual assault of two minor girls.

"The chief pontiff of Sri Murugha Mutt, Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, accused of sexually assaulting minors, arrested," said Alok Kumar, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Law and Order, Karnataka. The chief pontiff's medical test was also conducted. Kumar has earlier said, "The due procedure will be followed. Medical test and investigation will be done as per the procedure. He will also be produced before judge."

Speaking to media persons, Chitradurga SP Parashurama K had said, "We arrested him (Chief of Sri Murugha Mutt) in the Protection Of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO) case. The second accused 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."

On Tuesday, the District Sessions Court in Chitradurga adjourned the anticipatory bail petition of the chief pontiff of the Murugha Mutt to September 1. An FIR under the POCSO Act has been registered against the pontiff of the influential Muruga Mutt in Chitradurga after minor girls made allegations of sexual harassment against him.

The FIR has been filed against Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru of Murugha Mutt in Chitradurga. According to the FIR, the girls were abused for over two years. Earlier this month, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited Murugha Math in Chitradurga along with party leaders DK Shivakumar and KC Venugopal.

The Murugha Mutt is also known to be an influential institution with a long list of politicians visiting regularly. The pontiff also gave Gandhi the 'Lingadeekshe', which is an official ceremony inviting a person into the Lingayat sect.

Speaking about it, Lahar Singh Siroya, BJP Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha said, "This is an extremely shocking and sad development. Each time something like this happens it shakes our confidence in our own surroundings, and in our own people. 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."

"If there is even an iota of doubt that interests of justice will be served better if this case is transferred outside Karnataka, then that too should be considered. In this case, not only do perceptions matter but restoring confidence in the health of our society is important. All of us have a crucial role to play in that respect," the MP added.

Karnataka minister V Somanna on Monday said, "Let the police investigate the case and let the truth come out. It is not appropriate to speak on the case as an investigation is underway," Somanna said.

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