The 64-year-old Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru is the head of the Murugha Math, a significant Lingayat seminary.
As one of the survivors is from the Dalit community, he has been named in a case under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act and the statute protecting Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
After a day of protests by the civil society and numerous organisations in the districts of Chitradurga and Mysuru, Karnataka, the arrest happened about 10:15 pm. He was subsequently brought before the magistrate court, who sentenced him to judicial custody for 14 days.
Due to potential law and order difficulties, the police took further precautions, blocking the mutt’s front door hours before the arrest and removing him through the back door.
He has been transferred to the Challakere, in Chitradurga, Deputy Superintendent’s office. Whether he will appear before a court tonight is not yet known.
The girls, who are both Murugha Math students, sought a non-governmental organisation in Mysuru, and the case was filed on August 26. The two teenagers claimed they had been mistreated for many years.
When the Bengaluru police called the mutt authorities in June or July, their earlier attempt to submit a complaint was unsuccessful. According to sources, members of the mutt had escorted them back.
Given the political influence of the Lingayat community, state political officials have remained silent about the matter across party lines. Rahul Gandhi, the Congressman, was formally welcomed into the Lingayat community earlier this month by Shivamurthy Sharanaru.
Former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, who succeeded Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, had publicly defended the seer, claiming that he had been “falsely implicated.”
Advocate Srinivas DC, who is defending the girls, stated that justice had been served, despite the delay.