India arrests sect leader for allegedly raping woman

Police arrest 70-year-old Kaushlendra Prapannacharya Falahari Maharaja for allegedly sexually assaulting 21-year-old.

India lowered the age at which a person can be tried as an adult for heinous crimes, from 18 to 16 following public pressure [File: AFP]

Indian police arrested a popular sect leader, the second in the past month, for allegedly raping a 21-year-old woman.

Police officer Jaisingh Nathawat said the woman, whose parents have been followers of 70-year-old Kaushlendra Prapannacharya Falahari Maharaja, complained that he assaulted her on August 7 at his headquarters in Alwar, a town in Rajasthan state.

She said that Falahari Maharaja warned her against telling anyone about the assault, but that she decided to break her silence after another self-proclaimed “guru”, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was tried and sentenced to 20 years in prison last month for raping two followers in northern Haryana state.

A court sent Falahari Maharaja to prison for 15 days while the police complete their investigation into the case.

The woman was allegedly raped when she went to hand the sect leader 3,000 rupees ($45) that she had earned for an internship with a lawyer in New Delhi on his recommendation.

Religious sects have huge followings in India and wield considerable political clout.

READ MORE: Ten-year-old rape victim delivers baby in India

Crimes against women have been mounting in the country.

The outrage over a 2012 attack on a 23-year-old medical student – named by her mother as Jyoti Singh – on a moving bus in New Delhi by a group of men prompted quick legislative action.

Prison terms for rapists doubled to up to 20 years and voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women were criminalised.

Singh died two weeks later of injuries caused by the rape. Four men were sentenced to death for the attack.

Indian politicians also voted to lower the age at which a person can be tried as an adult for heinous crimes, from 18 to 16.

Source: News Agencies