The head priest of the Badrinath temple, one of the holiest Hindu shrines, was arrested on Monday for allegedly molesting a 28-year-old pregnant woman under the influence of alcohol in a south-Delhi hotel.
The 38-year-old priest, designated ‘Rawal’ Keshawan Namboodiri, and his cousin Vishnu Prakash were arrested for ‘wrongful confinement and outraging the modesty of a woman’ and were sent to judicial custody for 14 days. Namboodiri has also been suspended by the shrine’s administration.
“The incident was reported from Mehrauli’s Delight hotel around 4:30 pm on Monday, shortly after Namboodiri invited the woman to the hotel for a ceremony,” said a senior police officer. The woman is believed to have known the priest through her father.
The woman initially declined Namboodiri’s offer to meet but relented when he sent his private vehicle to pick her up from her residence. She was then invited to the priest’s room, which had alcohol bottles and cigarette stubs strewn about, she claimed.
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“When she reached the room, Namboodiri allegedly asked Prakash to stand guard outside and began touching her inappropriately,” the officer said. The woman managed to escape and lodged a complaint at the Mehrauli police station. “Both men were drunk when they were arrested,” the officer added.
Investigation revealed Namboodiri’s phone contained a string of messages where he has apologised to the woman.