Three Arrested for Blackmailing Sabarimala Priest

India News
August 2, 2006

Kochi - Three people, including a woman, were arrested Wednesday for forcibly taking a now-sacked senior Sabarimala temple priest to the house of a woman and photographing the two together in a state of undress.

A woman, Shobha John, and her two associates were arrested for blackmailing and extortion demands on the thantri (priest) Kantaru Mohanaru last month.

According to Arun Kumar Sinha, south zone inspector general of police, Mohanaru, who was sacked as priest last month, was 'forcibly brought to her flat here and made to strip'.

'He was photographed along with another woman. Investigations are on and we expect to come out with more details on whether any others were involved,' Sinha told IANS.

The two men arrested along with Shobha John are her drivers, said Sinha, who is probing the case.

Following reports of the alleged sexual escapades of Mohanaru the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), the custodian of the temple, sacked him. The woman he had been photographed with had been earlier booked for immoral traffic.

TDB president G. Raman Nair said that the decision to sack the thantri stands. 'The investigation is still going on. A decision would be taken by us after the probe is over,' said Nair.

The sacking of Mohanaru came as a jolt to the famed Sabarimala temple, which was already embroiled in a controversy over Kannada actress Jaimala's claim that she had broken with traditions to touch the idol of the deity Lord Ayyappa in 1987. The temple is located in Pathanamthitta district in the Western Ghats.


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