Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Sunday, August 28, said that the police will have complete freedom to probe the sexual assault case against the chief pontiff of a prominent mutt based in Chitradurga. Meanwhile, former CM BS Yediyurappa dismissed the complaints against the seer of the Lingayat seminary, who has been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the chief pontiff of the Jagadguru Murugarajendra Vidyapeetha Mutt, has been accused of sexually assaulting two girl students, aged 15 and 16 years, who reside at the mutt’s residential facility. “The allegations against the seer are fake,” Yediyurappa said.
Claiming that the sexual assault allegations are a conspiracy against the seer, Yediyurappa said, “The truth will come out soon. The investigation will reveal that he (Shivamurthy) is innocent.” He further said, “The investigations will also reveal people involved in framing the seer.” In contrast to Yediyurappa, who dismissed the complainants, Chief Minister Bommai took a more pragmatic position. Bommai on Sunday said that an investigation is on in the case, and the truth will come out from the probe.
Informing that the police have filed two FIRs against Shivamurthy, Bommai said, “A POCSO case and a kidnapping case have been clubbed together against the seer.” He further added, “It is improper for me to comment about the case ahead of the investigation. The police have complete freedom to probe. The truth will come out”.
Former Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister KS Eshwarappa on the other hand refused to speculate on the matter. “I’ll pray that the allegations are untrue. This is very bad news and the investigations are ongoing. I’ll only comment after the investigation report is out. It would be wrong to speculate that so and so has happened or not, ahead of the probe,” Eshwarappa said.
Earlier, a police complaint was filed on behalf of two survivors who are 15 and 16 years old, who alleged that Shivamurthy sexually assaulted one of them over the past 3.5 years, and the other over the past 1.5 years. As a result, a First Information Report (FIR) was filed against Shivamurthy. He was detained in accordance with the provisions of the POCSO Act. The students alleged that Shivamurthy called them to his chambers under false pretext and sexually assaulted them.
The students had approached the Child Welfare Committee in Mysuru and narrated the ordeal in detail, based on which officials approached the Nazarbad police station in Mysuru and filed a complaint on their behalf. In addition to Shivamurthy, the FIR also names Rashmi, a warden of the mutt's residential wing, Basavaditya, a junior priest at the mutt, lawyer Gangadharayya, and activist Paramashivayya as accused.