"I Begged, We Are Poor Children": Girls On Karnataka Seer Accused Of Rape – NDTV

Shivamurthy Sharanaru is in jail since September 1. (File)
More chilling allegations have emerged against Shivamurthy Sharanaru, 64, one of Karnataka’s most influential Lingayat seers, who will remain in jail for at least another week as a local court today extended his judicial custody. 
“He used to offer chocolates laced with something.”
“He’d make me sit, would drink alcohol and hurl abuses at me.”
“He made the warden send girls to his room.”
These are among the allegations two girls, aged 15 and 16, have made against him as per the chargesheet and the hearing today. 
The seer has been in jail since September 1 for allegedly raping minor girls at a school run by Murugha Mutt in Chitradurga, around 200 km from Bengaluru, that he headed. 
“He disrobed me, and raped me. I begged him, saying ‘we are children from poor families’,” a 15-year-old student has alleged.
She said he used to offer chocolates “laced with something”.
“After consuming those, I would fall unconscious.”
The other girl, 16, said before the magistrate that she was sexually abused multiple times and was threatened at knifepoint.
“Warden Rashmi sent me to Swami’s room through a backdoor. When I entered, I saw he was drinking. He offered me fruits, after eating which I fell unconscious. When I regained consciousness, I had no clothes on me. He threatened me at knifepoint when I refused to cooperate,” she alleged.
“If any students refused to go to Swami’s room, warden Rashmi would beat them up,” she further said.
Rashmi, 26, is also under arrest.
Chitradurga superintendent of police K Parashuram, who led the investigation, has in the past told reporters, “Whenever the children resisted, he gave them apples laced with sedatives and raped them.”
Politicians have treaded rather cautiously as Lingayats form 17 per cent of the state’s population, and a powerful vote bank. Elections are due in a few months.
The sect is usually aligned with the ruling BJP, which is why Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and his predecessor BS Yediyurappa, both Lingayats, are in a tough spot.
His party leaders, including BS Yediyurappa, defended the seer initially, calling the case a “conspiracy”. But Mr Bommai has since said he “will be punished as per the law”, while Mr Yediyurappa has said, “The whole world today knows that he has committed an unforgivable offence.”

Congress’s Siddaramaiah, Leader of Opposition in the assembly, has called the charged “serious” and said, “The police should carry out impartial investigation based on the complaint filed by the girls and reveal the truth.”
The Congress also faced questions as its leader, Rahul Gandhi, had been ceremonially initiated into the sect by the seer just days before the case was filed in August.
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