Three years after a godman’s penis was chopped off in Kerala, the state crime branch police chief has ordered a reinvestigation into the case. Initially, a young woman from Thiruvananthapuram was arrested for the crime, after she told a Magistrate that the godman had raped her for years and she severed his penis as an act of vengeance and self defense.
The case was first filed in May 2017 based on a statement made by the woman, a law student, against the godman named Sreehari alias Ganeshananda Theerthapada Swami. She had also alleged that the godman, who used to visit her house had been raping her for many years, even when she was a minor.
She had received a lot of support from women’s organisations and even the Chief Minister called it a ‘courageous step'. The woman was booked only under relevant sections of self defense, but even that was withdrawn after many opined that it would be like targeting her.
But within a few days she turned hostile, claimed that the man had not sexually abused her and alleged a conspiracy. Within weeks, her audio and statements with different versions started doing the rounds. In one of these, she said that the godman who was followed by her family had helped her a lot, in another statement she claimed that she had been in a trance and chopped off some body part and in a third statement she alleged that Sreehari's aide, a man named Ayyappadas asked her to chop off the penis, but she couldn't do it.
Things got more muddled as traces of Sreehari’s semen were found on her clothes. Sreehari was part of an ashram in Kollam. He used to visit the young woman's house in Thiruvananthapuram for holding prayers for her ailing father.
According to police, the woman, her mother and the accused changed their statements several times. At one point, Sreehari said that he bobbitised himself. Later he changed his version and alleged conspiracy in the case.
In May 2017, a top police officer had told TNM that the woman was under pressure as Sreehari had considerable influence on the family.
The officer had said then, “The woman is obviously under pressure to change her statement. She was living with her parents for a few days after the incident. Listen to the audio; she and the lawyer are trying their best to show that there is no case. If she simply swiped her knife on him, how did the semen come on her?”
Meanwhile, Sreehari had also approached court alleging that some of his close aides and few higher police officials were part of a conspiracy against him.