INDIA. Karnataka: The religious leader of Karnataka’s politically powerful Lingayat community, Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, has been taken under custody for 14-days in the Chitradurga district jail. This immediate action was taken after civil society-imposed pressure upon the Jurisdiction.
The chief pontiff of Murugha Mutt is charged with sexually assaulting two minor girls. The case against Murugha Mutt was registered a week ago; since then, no active actions have been taken against him.
In the current update, on Thursday, Karnataka police arrested Shivamurthy after an FIR was lodged against him under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) for allegedly sexually harassing two minor girls aged 15 and 16. The victims were students at a school run by the Lingayat community.
Alok Kumar, the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Law and Order, Karnataka, said, “The chief pontiff of Sri Muruga Mutt, Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, accused of sexually assaulting minors, arrested.”
A rigorous medical examination is conducted on the chief pontiff. Earlier, Kumar said, “The due procedure will be followed. Medical tests and investigations will be done as per the procedure. He will also be produced before a judge.”
In a media interaction, Chitradurga SP Parashurama K said, “We arrested him (Chief of Sri Muruga 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.”
According to reports, the anticipatory bail application of the religious leader is put on hold by the District Sessions Court in Chitradurga on Tuesday till September 1. According to the FIR, the minor victims were allegedly molested and sexually exploited for over two years.
BJP MP Lahar Singh Siroya, related to the case, stated, “This is an extremely shocking and sad development. Each time something like this happens, it shakes our confidence in our surroundings and our people. As a society, we owe it to ourselves that these allegations are probed thoroughly and impartially. In this case, the Karnataka government and all political parties have to ensure that there are no pulls, pressures, politics and interference. The girls deserve nothing but justice.”