Meet to remove Pocso accused as mutt pontiff ends in a chaos

Published on Dec 03, 2022 11:45 PM IST

The Lingayat leaders took a delegation to chief minister Basavaraja Bommai on October 14 and urged him to appoint a new pontiff and administrator for mutt.

Sri Jagadguru Murugharajendra (SJM) mutt pontiff Shivamurthy Sharana has been in custody since September 1 in the case under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act
Sri Jagadguru Murugharajendra (SJM) mutt pontiff Shivamurthy Sharana has been in custody since September 1 in the case under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act

A meeting called by former minister H Ekanthaiah on Saturday to unseat Pocso case accused Shivamurthy Sharana as Sri Jagadguru Murugharajendra (SJM) mutt pontiff ended in chaos after a group of the seer’s followers opposed the appointment of an administrator to mutt by the state government.

The meeting was called by Lingayat leaders and elders after Sharana refused to step down as mutt pontiff.

Following this arrest, on October 16 Sharana had appointed Basavaprabhu Swamiji as the in-charge pontiff of the mutt. The Lingayat leaders took a delegation to chief minister Basavaraja Bommai on October 14 and urged him to appoint a new pontiff and administrator for mutt.

Bommai on November 4 had ordered Chitradurga deputy commissioner Divya Prabhu to submit a detailed report about the mutt within a week. Prabhu conducted an inspection of the mutt and submitted a 70-page report to the state government on November 10 in a sealed cover. Despite the report, the state government did not take any action, alleged Lingayat leaders.

During the meeting, a few followers raised their voice for Sharana who is under judicial custody in the Pocso case since September 1. This was opposed by another group, leading to chaos. Police intervened and brought the situation under control.

“The meeting has constituted a 9-member committee headed by me to take further action to oust tainted pontiff Shiva Murthy. We will write a letter to CM Bommai to appoint an administrator. If he doesn’t take any action, the committee will approach courts for legal action,” Ekanthaih said. “The pontiff has refused to step down and has kept all powers with him. He spoiled the prestige, Sharana tradition, Basava principles, and 400 years of belief by committing this crime.”

He said the Lingayat community is against the tainted pontiff and is committed to upholding the tradition and values of SJM mutt.

Meanwhile, Global Lingayat Mahasabha national secretary and retired IAS officer S M Jamadar told reporters in Belagavi that the government should appoint an administrator with background on Basava principles . He warned of protests if a person of Veerashaiva background is appointed as the administrator.

The pontiff has been in custody since September 1 in the case under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act.

A first information report (FIR) was registered against Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the pontiff of Jagadguru Murugarajendra Vidyapeetha Mutt in Karnataka’s Chitradurga, October 19 night alleging sexual assault of minor girls, said police.

This is the second case filed against the seer under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for sexually assaulting minor girls living in the hostel run by the ashram. The first case was registered on August 25.

The complaint was lodged with the Nazarbad police in Mysuru by the Child Welfare Committee. According to the police, two minor girls, aged 12 and 14 years, were studying in the Sri Jagadguru Murugha (SJM) educational institutions run by the mutt. The complaint was lodged by the parents of the two girls who were working with the mutt, said a senior police officer.

Sharanaru, who heads the Jagadguru Murugarajendra Vidyapeetha Mutt, was arrested late on September 1 after days of intense public pressure. He is accused of raping two girls, 15 and 16 years old, between 2019 and 2022, and was booked by the police for rape under the POCSO Act 2012 on August 25.

The mutt is among the most influential religious centres for the politically influential Lingayat community, believed to be the single largest caste group in Karnataka.

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