Activists fear intimidation of rape complainant, demand arrest of Raghaveshwara Bharati Swami
Anisha Sheth| Thursday, September 3, 2015 – 17:34
Activists have urged that the investigation of rape allegations against Ramachandrapura Mutt seer Raghaveshwara Bharati Swami be directly monitored by the Home Minister over fears that witnesses would be intimidated.
Earlier this week, a 25-year-old woman had lodged a complaint with the Girinagar police in Bengaluru with the help of women’s group Janawadi Mahila Sangathane (JMS). This is the second complaint of rape against the seer. The first was filed in August 2014 by a singer who performed the Ramakatha for the Mutt.
The state government recently handed over the second case too to the CID.
Read: Second rape complaint against Ramachandrapura Mutt seer Raghaveshwara Bharati
State Vice President of JMS K Vimala told The News Minute that attempts had been made to intimidate both the complainant and the possibility of threatening other witnesses given that the accused was a powerful person in society.
“Fifteen minutes after she got a call from the CID requesting her to give a statement, she got a call from the Mutt. The person on the other side of the line said ‘So, you’re going to give a statement to the CID? Be careful of what you say’. In such a situation, we want the Home Minister to directly monitor the probe,” Vimala said.
JMS also wants anticipatory bail granted to the seer in the first case to be cancelled as there is another complaint against him. “In the second case, the woman was a minor when she was abused by him,” Vimala alleged.
Vimala alleged that the abuse had first begun in 2006 when the woman was a student in one of the schools run by the Mutt. “Eventually he raped her, and warned her against telling anyone. He threatened her saying that (what was happening to her) was Rama’s will, and that she would be destroyed if she dared to tell anyone,” Vimala alleged.
“We think there is an inordinate delay in the case. In the first complaint, the police waited nine months to carry out the mahajar (inventory). We have doubts about the sincerity of the probe,” she said.
On Wednesday evening the woman, along with members of JMS met with Congress MLC VS Ugrappa, the head of the expert committee on Prevention of Crime Against Women and Children set up in the wake of the 2012 Delhi gang rape case. She said that they had demanded the arrest of the seer.
Asked why the seer was not arrested in the wake of sexual assault laws being made more stringent after the Criminal Amendment Act of 2013, Ugrappa said that the decision to arrest was a “discretionary power” of the investigating authorities based on “the ingredients of the complaint”. If, after assessing threat of the accused influencing the case, the police were satisfied that the case called for an arrest, they would make an arrest.
However, a politician close to Ugrappa said that the government was reluctant to be proactive in the matter.