BHOPAL (Madhya Pradesh): Rape accused Mahant Sitaram alias Samarth Tripathi was arrested while entering a barber’s shop near Singrauli bus stand to change his get up on Wednesday, said Rewa police.
On Tuesday, a case was registered against the Mahant for allegedly sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in Rewa circuit house.
SP, Rewa, Navneet Bhasin told Free Press that the accused had fled from the city in a SUV in the wee hours of Wednesday.
A team chased the vehicle but owing to darkness intercepted another SUV of same model and colour. Realising the error, they passed on the information about vehicle to Singrauli counterparts.
Civil Line police station in-charge HN Sharma said that they were informed that the accused was carrying huge cash and clothes. “We realized that the accused will try to change his appearance. We nabbed him when he was entering a barber shop,” Sharma said.
The SP said that history-sheeter Vinod Pandey was already in police net while another person was detained in connection with the case.
The victim, a first-year college student, had approached the Civil Lines police along with her father on Tuesday and filed a complaint accusing the mahant of sexual assault in room No-4 of Circuit House on Monday. Based on her complaint, the police registered a case against the seer and his associates under relevant sections of the IPC, including 376 (D) (gang rape), 506 (criminal intimidation) and provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Though the victim had accused only Mahant of sexual assault, Sharma said that a case of gang rape was registered against four persons.
The mahant, a religious storyteller, had checked into circuit house on Monday. The room was booked in the name of history-sheeter Vinod Pandey, who had recently come out of jail.
The SP further said that Pandey had taken the girl to Mahant assuring that the latter would resolve her problems with his ‘supernatural powers’. The girl had not done well in exams and wanted mahant’s blessings.
As soon as the girl entered seer’s room, his associates bolted the room from outside. Inside, the seer forced the victim to consume liquor and then allegedly threatened and raped her, the official said.
The main accused and his associates later tried to take her to some other place but she somehow jumped out of the vehicle and escaped.
Police were trying to ascertain as to how a habitual offender managed to book circuit house in his name.
The SP said that Tripathi was a former member of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and a disciple of former MP Ramvilas Vedanti. He had come to the town to deliver a lecture on Vedant at a programme scheduled from April 1.
Around 45 cases are registered against Vinod Pandey, who also enjoys good connections in political and religious circles.
Leader of Opposition in the MP Assembly, Kamal Nath took to Twitter to condemn the gang rape. “How the circuit house room was booked for them, and how they consumed liquor inside it is a matter of investigation,” the Congress leader tweeted and demanded stern action against those involved in the incident.