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Lingayat seminary head who gave ‘deekshe’ to Rahul Gandhi accused of sexually abusing 2 minors

Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru is head of the Jagadguru Murugharajendra Vidyapeetha, a prominent and influential Lingayat seminary visited by many political leaders

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New Delhi: Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the chief of the Jagadguru Murugharajendra Vidyapeetha — an influential Lingayat seminary in Karnataka — has been booked along with four others for allegedly sexually abusing two minor girls over a period of three years.

The allegations against Sharanaru comes weeks after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi received ‘Ishtalinga Deekshe’, an important ritual within the Lingayat sect, from him.

The ceremony also saw the religious leader offering applying vibhuti (sacred ash) on Gandhi’s forehead. The Congress leader later wrote about the experience on the microblogging site, Twitter.

The Jagadguru Murugharajendra Vidyapeetha is a prominent and influential Lingayat seminary and is visited by many political leaders.

According to sources in the Mysuru police, the girls were abused while they lived in a hostel for students inside the Vidyapeetha campus.

The matter came to light after the victims approached the Odanadi Seva Samsthe (OSS) in Mysuru, an NGO that works for the rescue and empowerment of victims of human trafficking. OSS then approached the state child welfare commission, and a police complaint was filed.

Speaking to ThePrint on condition of anonymity, a senior officer of the Mysuru police said that a case had been filed against Sharanaru and the four others under two sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that refer to rape, and relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Meanwhile, the hostel warden — also an accused in the case — has filed a counter-complaint against Janata Dal (Secular) leader and former MLA S.K. Basavarajan and his wife Soubhagya, who allegedly moved the girls to a private facility after they left the hostel.

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai reportedly said Sunday “investigation is on in a case involving the chief pontiff of a prominent mutt based in Chitradurga, who has been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and the truth will come out from the probe.

Also read: Confessions, curses & 5-rupee book: Seedy world of Andhra ‘pastor’ accused of raping followers

Allegations and counter allegations

According to the FIR, a copy of which is with ThePrint, the minors have been subjected to sexual abuse since 2019.

“We are looking into the allegations. It is too early to say anything. The investigation is on,” the officer quoted above said.

Sources in the Mysuru police also said a medical test of the two minors had been done, but did not divulge the results.

The FIR was registered based on a complaint filed by Chandrakumar C. of the district child protection unit, the sources said.

Meanwhile, the police have also filed a counter FIR against former MLA Basavarajan — a former administrator of the seminary — and his wife based on the hostel warden’s complaint.

The JD(S) leader and his wife have been accused of confinement, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy and criminal intimidation.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Calcutta HC extends POSH beyond workplace, says female school students covered under 2012 Act


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