The mother of two minor victims in the Murugha mutt rape case in Karnataka Monday wrote a petition to President Droupadi Murmu saying that they either be given justice or consent for mercy killing. She alleged the police had been harassing her for complaining about Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the former head pontiff of the Murugarajendra Mutt in the Chitradurga district.
“Few police officers have come to the conclusion that the accused seer had not done anything and it is a conspiracy by us and our children. You are representative of oppressed classes. You are like a mother to us. Give us justice or allow us to die. Will a mother pledge the character of her daughters to make false allegations? The people who have told the truth are subjected to legal action and harassment,” she wrote in the letter.
Srinivas D C, the counsel for the victim, confirmed to The Indian Express about the letter to the President. The victim’s mother worked as a cook and in October she filed a complaint against the seer alleging that her two minor daughters were sexually exploited by Shivamurthy, who was the chief of the Murugha mutt in Chitradurga between January 2019 and June 2022.
Srinivas said, “A case was registered against the victim’s mother and Odanadi organisation, an NGO who brought the issue to the notice of police and Child Welfare Committee (CWC) stating that it was a criminal conspiracy. The woman was picked up by the police in the name of interrogation without proper documentation and was kept in custody for more than 10 days. She was harassed in police custody. The woman who came out approached Odanadi and is presently living there.”
The woman said the police were forcing her to withdraw the case and this led to her writing a mercy petition to the President, said Srinivas.
Sharanaru was arrested in September after the two girls filed a complaint in August under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act and Indian Penal Code (IPC). The 694-page chargesheet against him includes statements from the two girls, whose complaints led to the initial First Information Report (FIR), and a third victim who came forward to voluntarily record her statement in October. He has been lodged in jail since September 1.