On Monday, a POCSO court in Vizag rejected a bail plea by Poornananda Saraswati, who was arrested on 20 June 2023 for the rape of a minor girl at Gnanananda Ashram in Venkojipalem. Earlier this month, the victim identified the seer as the offender during an identification parade. A forensic report further strengthened the charges against Poornananda.
It may be recalled that on 13 June, a minor girl escaped to Vijayawada from the ashram in Vizag. With the help of a co-passenger, the victim complained to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) about the sexual assault on her by the seer. The CWC promptly informed the Visakhapatnam City Police regarding the incident, who arrested Poornanada Sarawati.
Against this backdrop, the Andhra Pradesh Sadhu Parishad alleged that these rape charges were part of a political conspiracy to snatch the ashram lands. Similar rape charges were levelled against Poornananda in 2012 for the sexual assault of a minor girl at his ashram. Nevertheless, he was released on bail soon after that.
Last week, a team from KGH conducted a potency test on the seer to ascertain the facts behind the allegations. Citing strong evidence against Poornananda Saraswati, the Vizag POCSO court rejected the ashram head’s bail plea in the minor girl rape case.
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