Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the head seer of Murugha Math in Chitradurga district of Karnataka was arrested by the police on Thursday night for alleged sexual abuse of minor high school girls.
Shivamurthy has been taken into 14-days judicial custody by the police following an interrogation, sources said soon after his arrest.
The arrest came amid widespread protests over alleged police inaction for close to a week since a sexual assault case was registered against the head seer, with a group of advocates writing to the high court claiming the investigation “is not being carried out in an unbiased, free and fair manner”.
The head seer has been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (PoCSO) Act and relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly sexually exploiting girls studying in schools being operated by the mutt and living in its hostel.
From the prominent and influential Lingayat seminaries in the state, he was then questioned at an undisclosed location by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Anil Kumar, the investigation officer in the case. He was later taken to the district hospital for a medical checkup, and subsequently, produced before the first additional district and sessions judge at her residence.
The FIR was registered against a total of five people, including the warden of the monastery’s hostel, based on the complaint by an officer of the District Child Protection Unit.