A Jain muni who is accused of raping a 19- year-old woman has been arrested by the Surat police. The accused, 45-yearold Shantisagar Maharaj of the Digambar sect, has been accused of sexually assaulting the girl who had come to seek his blessings along with her parents. According to police sources, a medical examination of the girl has confirmed that she had been raped. Anative of Madhya Pradesh and currently living in Vadodara, the teenager and her parents had accepted Acharya Shantisagar of the Mahavir Digambar Jain Mandir as their guru in March 2017.
“On October 1, the girl, her brother and parents had gone to seek his blessings. The Acharya allegedly convinced them to stay back for the chanting of mantras. Then he allegedly took the girl to another room, on pretext of performing puja and raped her,” the police said. The girl was initially afraid of reporting the incident but finally confided in her parents and an FIR was filed after 11days. She was sent to the government hospital for medical check-up and rape was confirmed, the police said.
On Saturday, after the news of the FIR spread, the Acharya took a vow of silence. He was taken to the police station on Saturday evening for questioning and formally arrested at night. Thousands of community members gathered at the Athwa lines police station. Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma said, “We have filed an FIR based on the girl’s complaint. The medical report confirms the girl was raped.” Meanwhile, Surat Zone 4 DCP Vidhi Chaudhari said, “We have discovered evidence that the girl was raped and based on that, we will be investigating the acharya.”
Community demands unbiased probe
The leader of Shakal Digambar Jain Samaj, Advocate R G Shah, said, “The complaint states the incident took place between 9.30 and 10.30 pm. But the muni doesn’t entertain visitors after 8.30pm. Also, why did the complainant stay quiet for all these days? This might be a ploy to defame the muni.”