Crime
The young woman told cops that he had been raping her since she was a minor.
Representative pic

Angry Indians’ calls for castration of rapists is often seen as just hyperbole, but things got real for a swami from a Kerala ashram. A young woman he allegedly tried to rape chopped off his penis, in what she claims to be an act of vengeance and self-defense.

A 23-year-old woman, whose parents were followers of the swami from an ashram in Padmana in Kollam called the Thiruvananthapuram police control room on Friday night. She informed the police that she had cut off the penis of a 54-year-old swami after he allegedly tried to rape her.

The alleged rapist, Sreehari alias Ganeshananda Theerthapada Swami, was admitted to the Medical College hospital in Thiruvananthapuram in a critical condition in the wee hours of Saturday, around 12.30am. The incident is reported to have happened at 11.30 pm on Friday night, according to the police. The police say that she has also given a statement alleging that the swami has been abusing her for several years, since she was in high school.

According to what the police told TNM, the Swami used to visit the girl’s home at Kannamula in Thiruvananthapuram to pray for her ailing father. According to the young woman, it is at her home where he had repeatedly assaulted her. She has also told the police that her mother had been aware of his acts. Knowing that he was arriving on Friday night, she is said to have kept the knife ready to chop off his genitals.

When asked why she would have chosen to do something like this, the Circle inspector of Pettai station in Thiruvananthapuram said, "She knew that no one would believe her if she said she had been sexually assaulted by a man of god. So, this was perhaps the only thing she could think of." The woman has been taken to a women’s shelter run by the government.

The Thiruvananthapuram Medical College said in a press statement that the man was now out of danger. "A 54-year-old man from Kollam was admitted at 12.39 am to the hospital on Saturday. His penis had been cut (90%) and was hanging precariously. There was no way it could be stitched back. Plastic surgeons who are urology experts in the hospital did emergency surgery to stop the blood loss and to enable him to pass urine."

The hospital also said that his condition was stable. 

Pettai police told TNM that a case had been filed against the man under IPC section 376 (rape) and under sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). "Case had been filed under POCSO as the assault and rape seem to have started when she was a minor," said the cop.

The girl's act is eerily similar to a sequence in a Malayalam movie 22 Female Kottayam, in which the heroine castrated the hero for betraying her.

The Padmana Ashram Math head Pranavananda Theerthapathar however denied that Sreehari was part of the ashram.

"The person in the news reports had lived in the Ashram eight years ago. At that time he had changed his name from Hari to Ganeshananda Theerthapada Swami and secured an identity card with the ashram’s address. But he left the Ashram, and it was said that he was running a hotel in Kozhencheryand Thiruvananthapuram. This person has no connection with the Ashram."

The alleged rapist, Sreehari, at the hospital. Police have not yet recorded his arrest.