Hindu priest arrested for torturing, sexually assaulting minor in Andhra Pradesh

63-year-old Hindu priest Swami Poornanada.

Visakhapatnam: Police in Andhra Pradesh have arrested a Hindu priest on allegations of sexually assaulting a minor girl at his ashram for more than two years, IANS reported.

The 63-year-old Swami Poornanada was arrested around midnight after the 15-year-old orphaned victim lodged a complaint that the accused he had sexually assaulted her by confining her at the Swami Gnanananda Ashram Venkojipalem.

The report said the victim was also physically tortured for over two years.

The girl from Rajamahendravaram had lost her parents at an early age. Her relatives sent her to the ashram meant for the aged and poor children.

She alleged that the Swami used to take her to his bedroom every night and rape her. For the last year, the victim was chained in the bedroom.

She told police that she was being given only two spoons of food and allowed to bathe only once a week.

The victim managed to escape from the ashram with the help of a domestic help on June 13, accoridng to the news agency.

She boarded a train and narrated her trauma to a woman passenger known to her. When the woman tried to admit her to a hostel at Kankipadu in Krishna district, the management asked her to bring a letter from the police.

After receiving a letter from the police, the woman took the girl to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), where she revealed how the Swami sexually and physically assaulted her at the ashram.

CWC members sent the girl to Disha Police Station, where a case was registered against Swami Poornananda under the POCSO Act.

The victim was subsequently sent to Vijayawada Government Hospital for medical examination.

On his part, the accused alleged that some people were trying to grab the ashram land and this was part of the conspiracy allegations were made against him.

Ashram organisers had lodged a complaint with the police on June 15 that a girl had gone missing from the ashram.

However, this is not the first time that the Swami is facing sexual assault allegations.

He was accused of sexually assaulting a minor girl at the ashram in 2012. He was arrested but later released on bail.

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