Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the head of Murugha Math – one of the main religious schools of the politically powerful Lingayat community in Karnataka – has been arrested after allegedly raping two female students. He was named in a case under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO) after the two girls alleged they had been sexually abused for years.
Shivamurthy Sharanaro claimed that the allegations against him were part of a long-running conspiracy. He claimed that his innocence would be proven.
The arrest comes days after a request from the Dalit community and others, including a section of Murugha Math’s staff. Given the amount of political influence the Linghat community has, there has been complete silence on the part of the state’s political leaders – the Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Prime Minister Basavaraj Bhumi’s predecessor, former Prime Minister B.S. Yedyurappa had publicly endorsed him, saying the seer was “falsely involved”.
Earlier this month, Buster was visited by Congressman Rahul Gandhi and he was introduced into the Lingayat community by Shivamurthy Sharanaru.
Sources said the police exercised great discretion during the arrest procedure to avoid the issue of law and order. It is not yet known where he was taken or whether he will be presented in court tonight.
The girls – both students of Murugha Math School – contacted an NGO in Mysuru and said they had been abused. The non-profit organization has taken up the matter and a complaint has been lodged with the police.
On August 31, cases were registered against Shivamurthy Sharanaru under the POCSO and SC/ST Act, because one of the survivors belonged to the Dalit community.