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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Monk booked for rape attempt, minor girl’s family says it’s rape

The monk remained in detention till Thursday afternoon, though he was not yet formally arrested. The police lodged an FIR under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code

ranchi Updated: Dec 21, 2018 13:25 IST
Debashish Sarkar
Debashish Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Jamshedpur
Monk Sujit Maharaj
Monk Sujit Maharaj(HT Photo)

A 45-year-old monk from the Jamshedpur branch of Bharat Sevashram Sangha (BSS) remained in police detention on Thursday, after being accused of attempt to rape. The alleged victim, a 15-year-old, had lodged a written complaint that the monk, Sujit Maharaj, had assaulted her in his room at the ashram on Tuesday afternoon. The monk was taken into custody on Wednesday night from the area under Sonari police station, shortly after the complaint was filed.

However, there is a complication: the victim and her family say that it was rape; the police complaint they have filed — as dictated by the police, according to the family — is about attempt to rape. The police will not confirm anything until the medical test results come in.

BSS Jamshedpur assistant secretary Swami Sevatmanandaji dismissed the accused monk, as directed by BSS headquarters in Kolkata on Thursday. BSS was established in 1917 by Swami Pranbanandji Maharaj and has 68 branches across India, apart from 12 overseas branches in different countries.

“Police have been investigating the charges against Sujit Maharaj and we hope [that the] culprit will be brought to justice and [the] innocent will be acquitted. As directed by our Kolkata HQ, we have dismissed Sujit Maharaj from BSS with immediate effect so that the investigation is not hampered [in] any way,” said the dismissal letter, a copy of which is with HT.

The monk remained in detention till Thursday afternoon, though he was not yet formally arrested. The police lodged an FIR under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and relevant provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Posco) Act against him.

Sujit Maharaj was picked up from the BSS premises in Sonari, after the alleged victim, her elder brother Subhas N Bose and his wife Victoria Bose lodged a complaint of attempt to rape at the Sonari police station. Bose alleged that the complaint was written as the police dictated it, and that the family had submitted a fresh application requesting the police to change the FIR, but in vain so far.

“We have lodged an FIR under Section 376 and 4/8 of Posco Act. If any additional section is required, it can be added at different stages, like in supervision report, SP’s report etc. The victim’s brother has been trying to pressure us, but we’re still investigating the matter, and will take conclusive action only after investigation,” said Jamshedpur city superintendent of police (SP) Prabhat Kumar, speaking to the media on Thursday afternoon.

Kumar said that rape could be confirmed conclusively only after getting the medical test report. He strongly refuted the allegations by the victim’s brother that he had been hit and threatened by police officials.

Kumar said that they had seized the CCTV footage from the camera outside Sujit Maharaj’s room. The SP said that the footage confirmed the monk’s statement that the victim came to his room on her own and that he left the room to charge his phone. “The footage also showed the victim coming out of accused’s room with her sister-in-law,” he said.

Swami Sevatmanandaji alias Ajit Maharaj told the media that there were about eight CCTV cameras at the ashram, and that barring Sujit Maharaj, no other monk had a CCTV camera. “He has a camera installed in the room that he himself operates. He has been demanding that police check the CCTV footage, but police have not come to check it, as of now,” said Ajit Maharaj on Thursday afternoon. The City SP said that they would check the footage from the camera in Sujit Maharaj’s room.

First Published: Dec 21, 2018 13:25 IST