Goa’s Mangueshi temple priest who was booked for molesting two women, has claimed that one of them fabricated the charges against him after he refused to allow the unmarried woman into the sanctum sanctorum.
The court has granted him interim bail until the next hearing on Wednesday.
The accused, Dhanajay Bhave, told the Ponda additional district and sessions court on Saturday, that he “tried to explain to the complainant that as per the norms and the rules of the devasthan, unmarried daughters/unmarried girls cannot enter the gabhara (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple”.
Bhave, who has worked at the temple as a priest for 28 years, even told her to sit outside till her parents returned.
However, the complainant picked up a quarrel with Bhave and insisted on entering the gabhara, as according to her there is no basis for refusal, he told the court in his petition.
Bhave has been booked under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 354 for outraging the modesty of a woman.
The iconic Mangueshi temple priest is alleged to have molested the student of medicine enrolled in a US college, who has accused him of hugging and kissing her inside the temple premise in June.
The First Information Report (FIR) was filed by the student last week, after the Shree Maguesh Devasthan Committee informed her in writing that there was no “dependable evidence” against Bhave, and asked her to approach “appropriate authority”.
The temple committee also received one more molestation complaint from another victim, also in June, but that victim is yet to file a police complaint.
Bhave claims that he only followed rules set by the temple committee which disallows entry of unmarried women into the sanctum sanctorum.
He submitted before the court that he was “only performing religious duties clubbed with traditional and cultural norms followed in the Hindu tradition”, the petition stated.
Bhave also said that his arrest “would bring in bad publicity for the devasthan”.
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. Several influential Gaud Saraswat Brahmin clans are followers of the deity.