Murugha Matha interim chief accuses ex-MLA, fired teacher of conspiring against POCSO-accused seer

In a twist in the Murugha Matha case, the police have arrested two people including ex-MLA Basavarajan for allegedly framing the seer. The mother of the victims is detained for the third day for enquiry.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Nov 13, 2022 | 11:00 AMUpdatedNov 13, 2022 | 11:16 AM

Murugha mutt seer Shivamurthy Sharanaru. In a twist in the Murugha Matha case, the police have arrested two people including ex-MLA Basavarajan for allegedly framing the seer

In a major twist in the case of the rape-accused Murugha Matha chief pontiff Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanuru, the Chitradurga Rural Police on Thursday, 10 November, arrested ex-MLA Basavarajan and another person who are now in the centre of controversy due to allegations by the matha’s interim chief.

The two men arrested were 28-year-old teacher Basavarajendran, who was fired from the Priyadarshani School run by the matha, and 60-year-old Basavarajan, an ex-MLA from Chitradurga and former administrator of the Murugha Matha.

The police have also detained a 38-year-old woman for a detailed inquiry. The woman’s name has not been made public as she is the mother of two of the alleged victims, and also the complainant in the second FIR against the seer. She used to work as an assistant cook at the matha.

“The woman was picked up by the police on 10 November from the Odanadi Samsthe in Mysuru, where she had taken shelter along with her two daughters, who have been petrified since the cops picked up their mother,” said the Odanadi NGO’s founders.

The police action was the result of a complaint filed by the new interim chief of Murugha Matha, Basavaprabhu Swami. An FIR based on it was registered on 9 November.

Audio clip behind complaint

Basavaprabhu Swami in his complaint said that he had been looking into the administration of the head matha in Chitradurga based on Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru’s General Power of Attorney (GPA) orders.

Recently, he stumbled upon an audio clip that went viral on social media, he said, claiming that it was a phone conversation between the fired teacher Basavarajendran and one of the sisters allegedly victimised by the seer.

The around 15-minute-long audio clip, a copy of which is now with South First, appears to be a conversation that happened nearly a month ago, the interim chief said.

In it, Basavarajendran can apparently be heard coaxing the girl to register a complaint, as she continued to refuse to do so.

He is heard making several attempts to convince the girl to be brave so that with this one decision, “many people’s lives could change for the better”.

Basavarajendran is even heard offering to marry her and take care of her studies, to which the girl is heard saying she has no such feeling towards him and sees him only as a teacher. Basavarajendran then indulges in some casual conversation before ending the call.

Basavaprabhu Swami alleged that with this audio clip, it was clear that there existed a criminal conspiracy against the chief pontiff with a case fabricated against him. Let the police investigate and bring out the truth, he maintained.

The interim Muruga Matha chief also said there were other such audio and video clips on social media, which proved that the chief pontiff was framed in order to defame him.

He also requested the cops to take the call detail records and chat records of both the mobile numbers mentioned in the FIR and thoroughly investigate them.

Ex-MLA Basavarajan, former admin of Murugha Matha, booked

Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru

Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru

Based on Swami Basavaprabhu’s complaint, the police registered an FIR booking the accused under IPC Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 384 (extortion), 420 (cheating), and 366(A) (procuration of minor girl).

According to the police, the fired teacher Basavarajendran, a resident of Athani in Belagavi, had conspired along with ex-MLA Basavarajan and his wife Soubhaghya, who had kept the minor girls at their house before approaching the Odanadi Samsthe in Mysuru to file a complaint against the seer in August this year. The rural police maintained that Basavarajan’s wife Soubhagya was also a party to the crime and said she has gone absconding since the FIR was registered.

“Basavarajendran and Basavarajan have been arrested, produced before a magistrate, and remanded to judicial custody, while the mother of the victim sisters has been detained for an inquiry,” K Parashuram, Superintendent of Police, Chitradurga, told South First.

The other accused in this case are people from the Odanadi Samsthe NGO in Mysuru and a few others who are yet to be identified, SP Parashuram added.

‘Plan to intimidate other victims, parents’

Odanadi Samsthe NGO founder ML Parashuram, who spoke to South First, claimed it was a well-thought-out plan to create doubts and weaken the POCSO and the rape cases against the seer so that he could somehow obtain bail.

“The Murugha matha’s new pontiff filing such a case is also to threaten and intimidate other victims or their parents from filing any other complaints against the powerful seer,” Parashuram added.

Another founder of the NGO, KV Stanley, said that there was no support system for the victims or witnesses.

“The victim-witness protection protocol is an integral part of our judiciary, but unfortunately it’s non-functional. And that is why in more than 86% of the cases filed in this country, the accused is acquitted according to NCRB reports,” Stanley told South First.

“If a minor girl is heard saying so over a phone conversation, the police should also consider the psychological and social aspects around that caller and the call receiver. If one can hear the audio clip, the minor girl did not want to reveal anything to a person (Basavarajendran) associated with the Muruga matha earlier as a teacher, suspecting he could be still associated with matha’s administration,” Stanley added.

The NGO founder Parashuram said, “The SIM card Basavarajendran was using to speak to this minor girl is not registered in his name. We (Odanadi Samsthe Mysuru), who offer shelter for exploited and underprivileged women who are victims of sexual assaults and/or trafficking, have been accused under 366-A of the IPC. We have also been accused of extortion.”

“With this news of a new counter case on the mother of the victims, the Karnataka State Farmers’ Association has come forward to contribute ₹1 each per member towards the mother’s account so that they could travel to Delhi [and tell the people there what is happening],” Parashuram added.

Soon after the mother of the victim sisters was picked up from the Odanadi NGO in Mysuru, the children wrote a letter to the President and the prime minister. They requested protection from the powerful accused who have now booked a counter case against their mother and others.