Goa Minister Govind Gaude and another BJP MLA on Thursday welcomed a formal probe into two complaints of alleged molestation filed with the Shree Mangueshi temple committee, accusing a priest of inappropriate behaviour.
“I want an enquiry about that,” the Art and Culture Minister told reporters outside the Goa Assembly complex, adding that he was also conducting enquiries about the incident on his own.
“I have not asked temple (authorities). But I have information from reliable sources because it is my constituency. I just want to know what temple people are saying and what residents of the area are saying,” Gaude said.
Two young women, including a student of medicine studying in the US, have accused a temple priest of the popular Mangeshi temple of alleged molestation. Both complaints were submitted to the temple committee in June.
“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,” one of the complainants said in her letter to the temple committee.
The Committee in its response earlier in July, through Secretary Anil Kenkre, said that during its probe, 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 Shree 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.
Speaking to reporters, Goa Tourism Development Corp Chairperson and BJP MLA Nilesh Cabral also called for a probe into the incidents of alleged molestation.
“First of all it is a temple, it is a holy place. Molestation taking place in holy places is objectionable… Police FIR has been filed, the police have to do a detailed investigation.
“If it is done, whether it is a holy place, church, mosque any place or even on the road, it is against the law. So I think action has to be taken,” Cabral said. >