Ahmedabad, Feb. 15: After murder in the temple, sex.
A sadhu of the famous Junagadh Swaminarayan temple was arrested today for links to an alleged sex scandal as holy men continued to have a bad time, from Tamil Nadu in the south to Gujarat in the west.
The additional police commissioner (crime branch), D.G. Vanzara, said the arrest of Bhakti Swaroop and three touts 'could be just the tip of an iceberg'.
He added that the touts would take 'married women' to the sadhus for sex. The police believe that more sadhus of the Vadtal sect ' there are several among Swaminarayan devotees ' could get sucked into the scandal.
The Vadtal sect is unconnected to the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar that had become the target of a terrorist attack.
On January 29, the crime branch received an anonymous letter from a devotee who said a CD showing four sadhus engaging in sex with women was being sold. The police identified the quartet and one of them was caught with three touts who had arranged for women to be taken to the sadhus.
Vanzara said the women were aware that they were being filmed. One of the women, who has become a witness, revealed this during interrogation. The police also recovered some pornographic literature and condoms from the residence of Bhakti Swaroop in Junagadh.
Another sadhu shown in the video has been identified as Harikrishna of Ahmedabad. The other two are from Surat and Bharuch and all of them belong to the original Swaminarayan sect of Vadtal set up some 200 years ago.
The scandal has broken on the heels of the arrest and release of Jayendra Saraswati of Kanchi over a temple manager's murder.
The Vadtal temple in Kheda district is believed to be the country's third richest after Tirupati and Shirdi. Property worth some Rs 2,500 crore is at the centre of a fierce power struggle that resulted in a murder a few years ago.
After interrogating the arrested, the police have come to the conclusion that the four sadhus caught in the act were set up by rivals in the power struggle.
Narottam Swami, the chief priest at the Vadtal temple, the headquarters of the sect, said the arrested sadhu did belong to the sect but 'he has nothing to do with us'. At the same time, he alleged that 'our rivals have hatched a conspiracy against us. They are doing everything to defame us, laying traps, sending women'.