A meeting of leaders of the Veerashaiva Lingayat community held on Thursday to decide on the leadership of the 400-year-old Murugarajendra Mutt in the Chitradurga district of Karnataka has resolved to seek the ouster of the incumbent seer of the Mutt, Shivamurthy Muruga Sharanaru, after his arrest in a case related to the sexual abuse of two minors.
The meeting held under the leadership of the former MLA H Ekanthaiah resolved to seek the appointment of a new seer and the exit of the incarcerated head pontiff. Following the meeting, the former MLA said it was “unfortunate” that the seer had not offered to step down on his own after his arrest on September 1.
The head pontiff of the ashram of the dominant Lingayat community in Karnataka was arrested on September 1 by the Chitradurga police based on a complaint filed under the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act, 2012 on August 26 by a child protection officer of the state after two girls complained of assault.
Meanwhile, Sharanaru had approached the Karnataka High Court for permission to sign cheques for releasing the salaries of employees of the ashram after a special court in Chitradurga rejected the plea on September 23 while denying his bail plea. One of the conditions under which Sharanaru had sought bail was to facilitate the signing of cheques.
The seer’s advocates have argued that nearly 3,000 employees working in the Mutt and its affiliated institutions, including schools, colleges, and hostels, would be affected if the seer is not allowed to sign the cheques for the release of the employees’ September salaries. The high court adjourned the matter for Friday with directions for more clarity on the issue.