Belgaum: Self-styled godman confines minor girl in underground cell
According to TOI report, the incident happened in the ashram of godman Sadashiv alias Appayya Swami at Chandragiri Mutt at Zunjarwad village in Athani taluk.
On Tuesday when police raided his ashram, he along with his aide, Gurupadgouda Patil, was arrested. However, he claimed that he had 'adopted' the girl.
The 'confined' girl, identified as Nijalingamma Channappa Dodamani, was rescued and was admitted in the Athani government hospital. The doctors said that the girl is traumatised but stable.
The police team said that the girl was kept in a 11ftx11ft wide and 9ft high cell, from where they also found food, water, lamp, kerosene and items, that are used for 'rituals'.
Following the raid, five more children were rescued from his ashram.
Godman wanted to show girl publicly on Shivratri
20 days before, the ashram had publicised an event that "Yog Samadhi" will be conducted on Maha Shivratri.
The godman also claimed that a "girl would be burnt alive" and brought back to life on Shivratri.
For making people fool, the godman even conspired to burn the girl in front of devotees by placing the girl under logs of wood and burnt the pyre.
But the girl was cleverly whisked away and her body was smeared with black paint and ash to show that she had died.
Later she was kept as hostage in the underground cell, only to show her publicly on Maha Shivratri.
The godman said her parents are from Soorpali in Jamkhandi taluk of Bagalkot district.
The District commissioner, N Jayaram said the government will take up the responsibility of the rescued girl, including tracing her family and her schooling.
"Besides, the construction of the mutt is illegal and authorities will look into it," he said.
A case has been registered against the accused Appayya Swami and his aides. Further investigation is on, said S R Patil, DySP, Chikkodi.
Godman, a controversial man and habitual offender
The arrested controversial godman had a brush with law nine months ago, as well.
As some rape charges allegations were against him, he had dropped his clothes in front of the mediapersons and said he was free of sexual desires.
In 2010, Appayya was booked for attempt to suicide as he claimed to have sat in an underground cell without food and air for 15 days, surviving only on his spiritual powers.