Goa Priest Charged for Molestation After Allegations from Two Women

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I don’t think this man (priest) should be anywhere near the temple, says one of the victims. — Representational photo

Two young women have accused a temple priest of the popular Mangeshi temple of molestation and demanded the priest be removed.

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PANAJI — Goa Police has started a probe into allegations of molestation raised against a priest attached to the popular Mangueshi temple in south Goa, after a victim filed an FIR, an officer said on Friday.

Two women have accused a senior temple priest here of molesting them in separate incidents. While one of the victims is a US-based NRI, the other is a resident of Mumbai.

The First Information Report was filed at Ponda police station late on Thursday, he said.

“We are investigating the case. An FIR has been filed by the victim under section 354 (outraging modesty) of Indian Penal Code (IPC),” Superintendent of Police (South Goa) Arvind Gawas told reporters on Friday.

The priest, Dhananjay Bhave, accused of the alleged molestation, will be summoned formally, the officer said.

Letters written by both the victims to the temple committee have gone viral on social media. In the letters, they have narrated their ordeals and urged the temple authorities to take action against the accused priest of the renowned Mangueshi temple.

“He (priest) came to the locker area (outside the sanctum) and on the pretext of asking me to take ”pradakshina”, he beckoned me to come near and put his arm around my shoulders. He then proceeded to tightly hug me and attempted to kiss me,” a victim has said in her complaint to the police.

Another victim, a student, in her letter to the temple committee wrote that she was visiting the Mangueshi temple with her parents on June 14 of this year when the incident took place. Recalling her ordeal, the victim says that she was approached by senior priest Dhananjay Bhave when she was waiting for her parents to complete a ritual. He allegedly hugged her tight and attempted to kiss her, even managing to kiss her on the cheek before she could let go of his grip.

“I don’t think this man should be anywhere near the temple. He belongs behind bars! I don’t know how many girls he must have molested,” writes the victim while requesting the Mangueshi temple committee to sack the accused priest.

The Shree Manguesh Devasthan Committee responded to the compalints earlier in July.

In its response to the victims’ complaint, the Committee’s Secretary Anil Kenkre had said that it “could not lay hand on any dependable evidence to establish a prima facie case…,” urging the complainant to take up her grievance with an “appropriate authority”.

The Mangueshi temple, home to Lord Manguesh who is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva, is one of the most visited temples in the state by tourists and locals alike.

Several influential Gaud Saraswat Brahmin clans are followers of the deity.

It is also one of the sites recommended by official Goa Tourism brochures and sees hundreds of thousands of tourists in attendance every year.

(With agencies inputs)

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