Over 3,000 people, including a thousand on motorcycles, gathered in Chitradurga on Saturday, 10 September, in a massive of show if solidarity with the two minor girls who were allegedly sexually assaulted by the seer of the town’s well-known Murugha Matha.
In a memorandum submitted to the District Commissioner, they demanded a “court-monitored probe” or an investigation by an “independent agency like the CBI”.
“Recalling the developments before the arrest of the seer, Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, until the present day, we have lost faith in the government and its machinery which is only trying to protect the accused and further victimise the victims,” the memorandum read.
The rally, named “Makkalakaagi Naavu” (We are with Children), began at Kanaka Circle near Barageramma Temple on Hoalkere Road on the outskirts of Chitradurga and wound its way past the District Commissioner’s (DC) office and ended at Bala Bhavan, some 4 kms away.
“It was an overwhelming response; over 3,000 people participated in the rally,” Stanely KV, an office bearer of the NGO Odanadi Seva Samsthe, told South First.
Odanadi role in seer arrest
It was the Mysuru-based Odanadi’s intervention that helped the two minor girls to file an FIR against Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanappa and led to his arrest on 1 September. He is currently in judicial custody.
“A women’s band playing drums and music led the rally, and the crowd included people from all walks of life irrespective of caste, creed or religion. There were academicians, theatre personalities, students, members from community-based organisations, NGOs, human rights activists, RTI activists, and other activists,” Stanley added.
“This is the first time we saw people with no political affiliations or with organisational clout coming for a rally. All those who participated in the rally were truly concerned for the victims and showed their solidarity in demanding justice for the two minor girls,” said Parashuram ML, another office bearer of Odanadi.
The rally, which began around noon, reached the DC’s office around 3.30.
As the DC was not available, a Tehsildar accepted a memorandum the organisers of the rally had prepared.
Apart from Odanadi, several other organisations participated in the rally. They included DSS, Farmers’ Association, Madhigere Sangha, Aaadhi Jambavara Sangha, Jai Bharath Bheem Abhimanya Sangha, Network Against Trafficking, Karnataka, PUCL, We-Care Trust, Vimochana, Dwani Mahila Okkutta, Slum Dwellers Association, and RLHP.
“The focus and the agenda of the rally was more to show solidarity and seek justice for the victims than to condemn or protest against the seer or the Murugha matha,” Parashuram said.