The inaction against Lingayat seer Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru of the Murugha Mutt in Karnataka's Chitradurga, even as cases have been registered under the POCSO and Prevention of Atrocities Acts by the police, has surprised many.
Sources confirmed that big political calculations are behind the development.
The seer is being investigated by the police following allegations of sexual assault. Sharanaru heads one of the most prominent Lingayat mutts in the state.
The ruling BJP government in Karnataka has not initiated any action against the accused seer even after five days of lodging of an FIR.
Opposition Congress is also tight-lipped about the inaction against the seer. There's a deafening silence from Opposition leaders Siddaramaiah and B.K. Hariprasad, who normally launch scathing attacks on the ruling BJP government's failures.
Madara Channaiah seer, who represents the Dalit community, has extended his support to the accused seer. He has said that patience must be shown in cases like this.
The progressive, Dalit, women and minority organisations have slammed the political parties and are organising state-wide protests against inaction by the state government and silence of opposition parties.
Sources explained that the political clout and huge following of the Murugha Mutt is forcing political parties to hesitate to initiate any action fearing public wrath. With Assembly elections scheduled next year, no party is ready to take any risk.
Historically, the Murugha Mutt has involved itself in cultural, social, academic and social activities for three centuries. The mutt was established in 1703 A.D., according to historical records. The mutt has guided the rulers of Chitradurga fort.
The clout and influence of the Murugha Mutt is unquestionable, according to political analysts. Accused seer Murugha Sharanaru took lead to organise small caste groups, especially untouchables.
The accused seer, much to the chagrin of other influential Lingayat mutts and seers, helped these marginalised groups establish their own religious mutts. Under these mutts, backward and exploited castes of the state went on to become united groups.
RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat recently met the Madara Channaiah seer and addressed the religious seers belonging to backward classes from mutts mostly founded by the accused seer.
Murugha Sharanaru had also backed Opposition leader Siddaramaiah when he chose to quit the JD(S) and tried to launch the 'Ahinda' movement in Karnataka, which opened doors for him to the Congress. Later, Siddaramaiah went on to become the Chief Minister.
The accused seer recently stood with the Congress when the party launched the Mekedatu Padayatra. Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi visited his mutt and expressed his happiness and showered praises on the activities of the mutt, praising how the accused seer was empowering the exploited classes.
Mutt sources claim that the sex scandal is the result of internal strife for management of affairs of the cash-rich and influential mutt. However, sources also said that few elements could subdue the accused seer as they have got certain evidence against him.
The ruling BJP government is treading cautiously over the matter. Sources in the BJP explained that any move against the seer will cost the party dearly ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections. The party is waiting for court directions in this regard, so that there is no room for anyone to blame the BJP.
Karnataka police seem to be losing face by not initiating any action against the accused seer.
The police have not questioned the accused seer, who is charged under the POCSO Act. Dalit and women organisations have taken to the streets demanding his arrest. The accused seer has only been told not to leave the premises of the mutt.
Meanwhile, sources said that the victims, one belonging to the Schedule Caste and another to the Backward Class, have videos of the alleged sexual assault.
Police sources said that they have narrated their horrific tales of brutal sexual assault by the accused seer. The girls have left the hostel showing personal reasons and reached Bengaluru to speak out against the sexual assaults.
The victims had earlier narrated their ordeal to an auto driver, who guided them to an NGO 'Odanadi' based in Mysuru run by activists Stanley and Parashu. The activists had approached the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). The CWC then lodged the FIR on behalf of the victims in Mysuru. Later, the case was transferred to Chitradurga.