Molestation case: 60-yr-old spiritual guru held

New India Press/January 29, 2005

Mumbain -- It took a month and a lot of courage for two women from Tandulwadi in Palghar town of Thane district to expose a spiritual guru for allegedly sexually abusing them during their visit to Kolhapur, some 300 km from here.

Shivling Mahadev Todkar alias Todkar Maharaj "who operates from his plush Dronagiri Ashram in Kolhapur's Ganjimal area" was arrested along with his two disciples recently, after the victims finally gathered courage to file a complaint against him.

The influential 60-year-old "reportedly revered by many politicians" had to even face the wrath of irate women, who slippered him before being arrested, following the seizure of pornographic literature from the ashram.

Though Todkar, along with the disciples "Marutrao Raalnath Desai (62) and Mangala Muralidhar Ghongade (50)" have now been released on bail, they will have to report daily to the Rajwada police station in Kolhapur.

As per the first information report, both women (names withheld by the police) "aged 28 and 19" were allegedly molested by Todkar on December 24, 2004, at the Dronagiri Ashram, where they took turns to seek his blessings.

According to the FIR, the guru fondled their private parts and then threatened them with dire consequences if they tried to report the matter. The guru reportedly also asked the younger one to visualise having sex with him.

Addressing a press conference in Kolhapur, DySP (City) Sudhakar Pathare said the victims were intimidated by Todkar's influential background and hence delayed registering the FIR.

But now that Todkar has been exposed, other victims "in any" should come forward and lodge complaint against him, Pathare said, assuring in-camera trials and security.

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