Senior journalist and founder of People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI) Network, P Sainath, returned the Basavashree Award conferred on him by the Mu-rugha Mutt, a Lingayat religious organization.
P Sainath returned the Award after a sexual abuse case involving a leader of the Lingayat com-munity, Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, in the Indian state of Karnataka came to fore.
In a letter to the media, P Sainath wrote, “In solidarity with the survivors and with the cause of Justice in this case, I hereby return the Basavashree award (and the Rs 5 lakh prize money that came with it, by cheque) conferred on me by the Math in 2017.”
Following widespread protests, the police ar-rested Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the top Hindu religious leader of Karnataka’s politically powerful Lingayat community in Chitradurga district for sexually abusing two minor girls. The arrest came amid protests especially by Dalit community over police inaction for close to a week since a sexual assault case was registered against Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the head seer of the Murugha Math, one of the key Lingayat seminaries in Chi-tradurga, with a group of advocates writing to the high court stating the investigation is not being car-ried out in an unbiased, free and fair manner.
Sharanaru has been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act and relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly sexually exploiting two girls studying in schools being operated by the Murugha Math and living in its hostel. The girls recorded their statement before a judicial magistrate on Monday. One of the girls belongs to the Dalit community. The case was filed after the girls approached a non-governmental organisation in Mysuru. They said that they were abused for years.—INP