Bengaluru: Karnataka police probing sexual exploitation case against prominent Lingayat seer have sought time from the district court in Chitradurga for recording the statements of minor girls, who filed a complaint.
Meanwhile, Odanaadi, the NGO which had brought the alleged scandal out, has cried foul play with the handling of the case by Karnataka police. Saraswathi, attached to the NGO, has alleged that though the case was brought out by Odanaadi, the authorities are not letting her to contact the minor girls.
The two girls have recorded their statements before the police in connection with alleged sexual exploitation by Shivamurthy Sharanaru of historical Muruga Mutt. The mutt and the seer play prominent role in the state politics and run more than 150 educational and spiritual centres across the Karnataka.
The police have also completed the procedure of the medical test and are now preparing to produce the girls before the court to record their statements.
If the girls record their statements before the judge under CrPC Section 164 and stand firm with their earlier statements issued to police, the authorities will have to initiate arrest proceedings in the case.
The accused seer charged under the POCSO Act has been advised by the police department to stay in the premises of the mutt and not to move anywhere. The girls have been kept at an observation home in Chitradurga.
Meanwhile, Saraswathi of Odanadi NGO stated that the counsellors from the NGO were allowed to stay with minor victims till Sunday evening. “But on Monday, the authorities are not allowing us to meet the victims,” she said.
“The victims have given statements during investigations. The members of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) have also distanced us. The statement of victims should be recorded under CrPC 164 as early as possible,” Saraswathi added.
She alleged that the district police are delaying the investigations. Meanwhile, the CWC Chairperson has visited the mutt premises and conducted inspections.
According to police, the girls, who stayed at the residential facility of the mutt, were sent to the seer’s room on one or the other pretext. “There, the girls were given food or drink laced with drugs, and seer would allegedly sexually exploit them.”
The victims have explained that there are many more girls at the mutt who were sexually exploited. Considering the clout and political influence of the accused the seer, the victims have come down to Mysuru and approached Odanadi NGO for assistance.
(With IANS inputs)