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Pocso-accused Karnataka mutt pontiff Shivamurthy arrested | Bengaluru News

CHITRADURGA/BENGALURU: The pontiff of Murugha Mutt in Chitradurga, Shivamurthy Swami, was arrested late Thursday amid public outrage nearly a week after he was accused of sexually assaulting two minor high school girls in a hostel run by his monastery.

Karnataka: Chitradurga Murugha mutt pontiff Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru booked in Pocso case

Karnataka: Chitradurga Murugha mutt pontiff Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru booked in Pocso case

The 64-year-old seer, booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, 2012, and Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), was arrested at 10.20pm from his mutt by Chitradurga police. The arrest came following a growing clamour and protests by Dalit organisations. One of the two survivors is from the Schedule Caste community.
Police said Shivamurthy Swami was taken for a medical examination at the district hospital before arresting him. Confirming the pontiff’s arrest, ADGP Alok Kumar said in Bengaluru that the pontiff will be produced before a judge in Chitradurga late in the night.
Some of Shivamurthy’s Swami aides said he was not arrested, but he surrendered before police. The pontiff had applied for anticipatory bail in a Karnataka court on Monday.
Earlier, the investigation officers detained Murugha Mutt hostel warden, identified as Rashmi, for interrogation in the case. The woman, the second accused in the case, appeared before the court, and her statements were recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the presence of the judge. Later, police took her into custody.
Chitradurga superintendent of police K Parashuram said Rashmi is being interrogated in the case.
However, three other accused in the case — junior seer Basavaditya, mutt secretary Paramasivayya, and advocate Gangadharayya — are absconding, a police official said.
On August 26, Shivamurthy Swami and four others were booked under Pocso Act and IPC Section 376 for rape at Nazarbad police station in Mysuru. The case was later transferred to Chitradurga police for further investigation.
Police in Chitradurga had earlier this week produced the two victims for recording their statements under Section 164 of the CrPC. It is alleged that the girls, aged 15 and 16, studying in a school run by the 17th-century mutt and residing in a hostel also run by the monastery, were sexually abused between January 2019 and June 2022.
District police invoked the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (Act) against the pontiff on August 31 because one of the victims is from the SC community.
The pontiff was booked under Pocso Act after Mysuru-based NGO Odanadi Seva Samsthe, which is engaged in the rescue and rehabilitation of sexually exploited women and children, approached the district Child Welfare Committee (CWC) after hearing from the two girls.
The CWC, which is a quasi-judicial body, recorded the statements of the two girls and lodged a complaint. According to the FIR, one victim underwent harassment for three-and-a-half years, another for one-and-a-half years.
In his defence, the pontiff had called the case “baseless” and claimed that the allegations against him were part of a long-drawn conspiracy.
Watch Rape accused Murugha Mutt seer Shivamurthy arrested in sexual assault case

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