Mumbai: Spiritual leader booked for ‘rape’https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/mumbai-spiritual-leader-booked-for-rape-5283881/

Mumbai: Spiritual leader booked for ‘rape’

Police have identified the spiritual leader as Balkrishna Mandavkar, affiliated with the Sant Nirankari Mission.

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Mandavkar had immediately applied for anticipatory bail, said Senior Inspector Gulab More from V P Road police station. (Representational Image)

A 65-year-old spiritual leader has been booked on charges of rape after a 34-year-old woman approached the police alleging that the man leader took advantage of her on the pretext of improving her financial condition.

Police have identified the spiritual leader as Balkrishna Mandavkar, affiliated with the Sant Nirankari Mission. After the FIR was lodged on July 16, Mandavkar had immediately applied for anticipatory bail, said Senior Inspector Gulab More from V P Road police station.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone II) Dnyaneshwar Chavan confirmed that an offence of rape has been registered against Mandavkar at the V P Road police station.

When contacted, Mandavkar refuted the allegations. “No such incident had taken place,” he said.

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Parveen Chhabra, a media coordinator for the Sant Nirankari Mission in Mumbai, said Mandavkar has resigned from his responsibilities. “Besides, the case that has been registered with the police is a personal matter between Mandavkar and the woman… the mission is not concerned with it.”

While the woman had filed a complaint with the police on April 24, an FIR was lodged on July 16 after the police conducted a preliminary investigation.

In her complaint, she has said that after her husband died in 2004, she came to know that she was infected with HIV. “When my husband was alive, he would fall ill frequently. But he always requested me not to take him to a doctor. As I am not well educated, even after his death, I didn’t know that he died from HIV. Later, when people in my locality told me that he had died due to HIV, I underwent tests, which revealed that I had also got infected with the same disease,” the woman told The Indian Express.

Owing to her poor financial condition, the woman has been seeking medical help from a trust in Haridwar. “The trust officials came and checked her condition…. after they were convinced that she had HIV that they decided to provided her medical help,” said a friend of the woman.

The complainant has alleged that after her husband’s death, she was constantly beaten up by her mother-in-law. “I have got seven to eight non-cognisable offenses registered against my mother-in-law,” she told the police.

The woman, who earlier worked as a beautician but had to leave her job owing to her illness, claimed that her poor financial condition and her mother-in-law’s constant assault led her to Mandavkar. “I used to visit several spiritual discourses organised by Sant Nirankari Mission, through which I got Mandavkar’s number. I called him and was asked to visit a spiritual discourse in Kharghar on January 28, 2018,” the FIR said.

She added that when she revealed her ordeal to Mandavkar, who then served as the area Mukhi from Grant Road for the Sant Nirankari Mission, the accused promised to help her. “Since then, we had spoken several times over the phone. I also met him couple of times… Mandavkar would frequently ask me to accompany him to a hotel or a guesthouse but I always refused,” the woman said.

Later, under the pretext of showing her a spiritual hall, Mandavkar allegedly took her to a room at Kumbharwada in south Mumbai. There, he allegedly proposed to her. “Mandavkar claimed that he would treat me as his wife and forced himself on me,” said the complainant.

Following this, the accused stopped contacting her and even blocked her number. “I called Mandavkar from a new number and he asked me to stop calling him,” said the complainant. Following this, she approached the police.