Chennai, Dec. 4: Devotees of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt came out in large numbers this evening in a show of protest for the first time since Jayendra Saraswati's arrest three weeks ago that was capped by words of comfort from a senior Muslim leader.
Padma Bhushan Abdul Kareem Parekh, a senior member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board in his 70s, came down from Nagpur despite being unwell to participate in the protest meeting organised in Chennai by the devotees.
Terming the developments sorrowful, Parekh, in a short address in chaste Hindi, said the seer was a highly respected religious leader.
'My personal opinion is that this matter (the case) should not be blown out of proportion and should not be sensationalised', more so when the 'matter is sub judice', he said in a clear hint to the media for restraint.
As a personal law board member, Parekh had worked with the acharya during the latter's efforts last year to peacefully resolve the Ayodhya issue.
The devotees, for the first time since the seer's arrest in the Shankar Raman murder case on November 11, protested both the arrest and what they termed 'media disinformation' and 'trial by the press'.
The seer found more support from another member of the minority community, Gaur Aziz, a member of the National Commission on Cattle Protection.
She termed the 'sexual allegations' levelled against the acharya by some persons, including noted Tamil writer Anuradha Ramanan, a 'shameless slanderous campaign'.
Aziz had been interacting with the seer on issues related to animal protection, particularly prevention of cow slaughter.
One of the acharya's seniormost woman devotees said the seer's imprisonment will not 'stain' him in any way because 'great souls' go through such trials and tribulations as exemplified in Hindu mythology.
R.V.S. Manian, a senior functionary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, was more strident in his protest. He attacked the 'trial by the media' and demanded a separate law to govern 'Hindu madathipathis (religious heads)'.
Manian bolstered his argument by citing a past instance in Madras High Court when a case filed by two local Christians against the Catholic Archbishop here could not be proceeded with as the latter was deemed a 'citizen of the Vatican State' by virtue of his office.
By the same logic, Manian said, the existing courts 'are unfit to try our madathipathis'.
A false case has been foisted on the seer, he added.