Don’t take over Murugha Matha, interim chief requests Karnataka government

Police reach NGO Odanadi's office in Mysuru after its founders fail to appear before investigators on Tuesday, 29 November.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Nov 30, 2022 | 1:35 PM Updated Nov 30, 2022 | 1:36 PM

Shivamurthy Sharanaru, the POCSO and rape accused seer. (Sourced)

Basavaprabhu Swami, the interim chief of the Murugha Matha in Chitradurga, has requested the Karnataka government to drop plans, if any, to take over the administration of the establishment.

He made the request after private individuals accused the matha of misappropriating funds during the administration of Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, arrested for allegedly sexually abusing minor girls. They also alleged that matha misappropriated funds even after the seer’s arrest.

“All is fine here. The General Power of Attorney (GPA) for the school and college — Vidya Peeta — has been granted to a retired judge, Vasthra Matha, and the GPA for Murugha Matha has been granted to me by Shri Shivamurthy Sharanaru himself,” Basavaprabhu Swami told South First.

“The Murugha matha administration is taking care of the salaries of its around 3000 employees. There are around 500 students in our school and college. Around 150 people are employed on the Murugha Matha premises itself,” he said.

“Additionally, there are pilgrims and tourists visiting the ashram daily around a thousand on Sundays. Food is prepared for at least 2,000 people daily for which rations and vegetables are regularly purchased so that the Annadasa/Nithyadasa (serving of food) will not be interrupted,” he further said.

“Moreover, the matha’s committee members are also united,” the interim chief added.

Bid to tarnish matha’s image

He alleged that some people harbouring ill will against the matha were constantly trying to tarnish its reputation. The matha, he said, was also aware of those who had petitioned the government to take over the matha’s administration alleging mismanagement and misappropriation of funds.

While requesting the government not to take over the matha’s administration, Basavaprabhu Swami said such a move would affect the morale of the pilgrims and devotees.

On receiving their representation, the government directed the deputy commissioner, Chitradurga, to submit a report on the matha’s administration. The report was recently submitted to the government.

Sources in the matha termed the report a routine affair that would not go against the management.

Police reach Odanadi’s office 

Around 25 police personnel reached the office of the Odanadi Seva Samsthe on Wednesday, 30 November, after the Mysuru-based non-profit organisation’s two founders and directors did not appear before the investigators for recording their statements a day ago.

The deputy superintendent of police, on Monday, 28 November, had issued notices, asking them to appear before the investigators the next day.

The organisation’s office-bearers, however, did not appear before the police since they had to give their statements to the Child Welfare Committee on the same date.

The notices were served after the non-profit alleged that a political had approached it with an offer of ₹3 crore to withdraw from the case against Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru.

Parashuram ML, one of the founders of Odanadi, made the allegation while addressing the students of Maharani College in Mysuru a few days ago.

When refused to compromise, the politician allegedly issued a threat, saying they “are ready for war”, he reportedly told the students.

The alleged incident took place in the last week of August after the first information report was registered against the chief pontiff. Shivamurthy Sharanuru was arrested on 1 September.

The police summoned the non-profit’s office-bearers based on Parashuram’s statements.

Two cases against chief pontiff

The Chitradurga rural police had recently filed a preliminary charge sheet running into 694 pages in the first case against Shivamurthy Sharanaru. The case, registered on 26 August, pertained to the alleged repeated sexual abuse of two girls aged 15 and 16 between 1 January 2019 and 6 June 2022.

The girls had been residing in the matha-run hostel.

A second case was registered against the chief pontiff on 13 October for allegedly sexually abuse of four other girls, including two sisters.

The interim chief Basavaprabhu Swami later lodged a police complaint, accusing an ex-MLA, a former teacher of the matha’s school and a cook of kidnapping minor girls and forcing them to give statements against Shivamurthy Sharanaru.

They engaged in a criminal conspiracy to tarnish the matha’s image, he said in the complaint.

Based on his complaint, the police arrested ex-MLA Basavarajan and Basavarajendran, the teacher who was fired from the matha’s Priyadarshani School, on 10 November. Basavarajan was previously an administrator of the matha.

The cook, also the mother of two of the complainant girls, was questioned.