Mangaluru: Several women’s organizations and like-minded individuals joined together and held a demonstration and dharna in front of the deputy commissioner’s office in the city, demanding immediate arrest of Shri Raghaveshwara Bharati Swamiji of Hosanagara math who has been sexual assault charges levelled by two former female artistes of the math.
Author-academic Prof Chandrakala Nandavara and Janavadi women’s organization’s DK district president Hemalata were the main speakers.
Working Women’s Coordination Committee president Padmavati Shetty, Janavadi’s city unit president Jayanti B Shetty, SFI leader Madhuri Bolar, writer-activist Gulabi Bilimale, other activists including Vidya Chinmaya, Varsha Prakash, Kirana Prabha, Mayuri Bolar, Bharati Bolar, Vilasini Thokkottu, Ishwari, Nebisa Beltangady, Vasanti Kuppepadavu and many others were present.
Speakers and demonstrators expressed outrage at the inordinate, over a year’s delay in filing the charges against the Swamiji and arresting him and in spite of a second woman having complained of sexual assault against the same accused.
1. In the case of the female Yakshagana artiste’s charges against the Swamiji, the sessions court will give its ruling over the application for bail filed by the Swamiji, on Sep 30.
When the court held the hearing, public prosecutor A S Ponnanna argued that the Swamiji had been accused of sexual assault by two women and that the accused had not been cooperating with the investigations. In the second case, the accused had appeared for questioning only once.
He also argued that since the accused had to undergo medical tests, the anticipatory bail should not be given. The court said that since the accused had been granted anticipatory bail up to Sep 29, the court would give its ruling on Sep 30.
2. Speaking in Bengaluru on Tuesday, National Women’s Commission chairperson Lalita Kumaramangalam wanted to know if the state government was shielding the Swamiji when he faced serious sexual assault charges.
She expressed surprise over his getting a bail when the serious charge was still being investigated. It was over a year since the first woman, a former female vocalist of the Ramakatha programmes, had charged him with sexual assault.
The chargesheet has not yet been filed. She said that she would write to the government urging it to file the chargesheet early in the first came and also expedite the investigations in the second.
3. State’s law and parliamentary affairs minister T B Jayachandra has clarified that the government had not interfered anywhere in the cases against the Swamiji. Saying that the law had been taking its own course, he added that the National Women’s Commission chairperson had met him and the chief minister.
He confirmed that she too had been apprised of the status of the case. He further said that on account of the anticipatory bail, the Swamiji could not be arrested. However, he assured that the CID would soon file the chargesheet. The delay was only in collecting evidence, he also said.
4, Speaking in Karnataka Bhavan in Delhi on Wednesday, chief minister Siddaramaiah also made it clear that there was no question of his government protecting the Swamiji. He also said that since anticipatory bail had been granted in both the cases, his arrest was not possible.
As for the charges of forest encroachment against the Ramachandrapura math, the CM said that action would taken against anyone, regardless of the status or the influence of the accused.
5. In the meantime, former Ramakatha vocalist and the victim in the first case, met Manjula Manasa, chairperson of the state Women’s Commission and expressed her displeasure in the manner in which the case was being delayed.
Pointing out that the investigating agencies had failed even to arrest the accused, she wondered if there were differennt kinds of justice to the rich and the common people.
She also submitted CDs containing recent speeches by the Swamiji inciting the devotees to retaliate against her family. ‘I have declared the war and have taken up the leadership. What are you doing devotees?’ is one of the themes of the speeches. The members of her family had been living in fear and therefore she sought justice from the Commission.
Manjula Manasa said that the vocalist had complained about the Swamiji’s provocative speeches against her family. She said that she would go through the CD material and if found necessary, the Commission would render all help to the family of the accused.
Since the NWC had already intervened in the first case, the state unit would plug all the loopholes and bring them to the attention to the former.