Karnataka Seer Shivamurthy Sharanaru, Charged With Raping Schoolgirls, Sent To 4-Day Police Custody

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Karnataka seer Shivamurthy Sharanaru faces rape allegations

Bengaluru:

Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, a religious leader of Karnataka’s politically powerful Lingayat community, who was arrested yesterday over rape allegations, has been sent to police custody for four days by a local court. He was taken to the court this evening on a wheelchair from the intensive care unit of a hospital in Chitradurga, 200 km from Bengaluru, where he got admitted this morning due to health complications.

The police had sought to keep the seer for five days for questioning.

The court criticised the police for not informing it that the seer has been shifted to a hospital from the jail. It told the jail authorities to give the medical reports.

The police will have to ensure medical care to the seer in their custody, and he should be taken to hospital only if his health condition worsens, the court said.

Another accused, Rashmi, has been arrested and three more are on the run.

Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, 64, heads the Murugha Math, one of the key Lingayat seminaries. Two minor girls have accused him of rape and a case was filed six days ago.

He has been named in a case under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and under the law protecting Scheduled Castes and Tribes, as one of the survivors belongs to the Dalit community.

The arrest took place around 10.15 pm on Thursday after day-long protests by the civil society and social organisations across Karnataka’s Chitradurga and Mysuru districts. The police exercised extreme caution in view of law and order issues – barricading the front door of the mutt hours before the arrest and taking him out by the backdoor.

The case was filed on August 26 after the girls – both students of Murugha Math – approached a non-governmental organisation in Mysuru. The two teens alleged that they were abused for years.

A group of lawyers on Thursday wrote to the Registrar General of the Karnataka High Court claiming that the investigation into the rape allegations “is not being carried out in an unbiased, free and fair manner.”



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